A jolly story that readers can appreciate during the Halloween and harvest seasons.

RUNAWAY PUMPKINS

Let’s hear it for smashed pumpkins!

Excitement’s running high when students take a field trip to a pumpkin patch. Each child will pick a pumpkin, then return to school and decorate it. The trip is filled with cheery anticipation; the pumpkin patch offers many choices. On the ride back, however, the latches on the bus’s exterior storage bins loosen, and, unbeknownst to riders, the gathered gourds roll out onto streets, lawns, and everywhere; most are ruined. All’s not lost, however. Residents witness the fiasco and devise a plan to save the day. Back at school, the kids and teachers finally realize what happened and observe that only the enormous pumpkin strapped to the bus’s roof survived. Students collaborate to decorate it. But the best is yet to come. The kindly neighbors turn up with a bounty of treats they prepared from the salvaged pumpkin bits. This sweet, upbeat charmer’s bouncy rhymes roll along merrily and are thus nicely suited to the story’s theme—and satisfying conclusion: If life hands you smashed pumpkins, turn them into pumpkin pie, cake, cookies, etc. Illustrations are lively, childlike, and suffused with bright shades of autumnal orange. Both kids and adults are racially diverse; some children and adults wear glasses. A pumpkin cookie recipe appears in the backmatter.

A jolly story that readers can appreciate during the Halloween and harvest seasons. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-58089-681-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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