February 1, 2016 Booklist 53 www.booklistonline.com
classroom, Lily has her strong points. She is
“a careful colorer, a patient puzzler, and the
quietest hide-and-seeker,” but she is also,
well, . . . chicken. She is reluctant to raise
her hand in class and resistant to trying new
foods in the lunchroom. When the teacher
announces a Grand-Slam Poetry Jam, her
classmates are wildly enthusiastic, but not
Lily. Still, after brooding about it, she hatches
a plan. With encouragement from her friends,
Lily writes a poem and reads it aloud on
stage—one small step for a shy, careful chick.
The straightforward text includes a number
of chicken-themed puns to amuse kids, while
offering an unstated, encouraging message
about the possibility of change. Crittenden’s
gentle pen-and-ink drawings with watercolor
washes lend the story an accessible, cartoon-like look. Every classroom has it shy kids, but
this picture book thrusts one into the spotlight and lets her shine. —Carolyn Phelan
Daniel Finds a Poem.
By Micha Archer. Illus. by the author.
Feb. 2016. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $16.99
(9780399169137). PreS–Gr. 2.
In this fetching testament to the maxim that
“poetry is all around us,” Daniel spends his days
in a dreamy park exploring nature and finding
answers to the question, “What is poetry?” Glorious flora and handsomely textured rocks are
abundant in Daniel’s park, and friendly fauna
each has a different answer to his question. On
Monday, Spider offers, “To me, poetry is when
morning dew glistens.” On Tuesday, Squirrel
tells him, “Poetry is when crisp leaves crunch.”
Chipmunk, Frog, Turtle, Cricket, and Owl all
give input in succession. By Sunday, Daniel’s
question is answered, and he is able to infuse
each critter’s sense of poetry into his own poem
for the “Poetry in the Park Program.” The lush
oil illustrations, which consist of collages made
from tissue paper and patterned with handmade stamps, create a world saturated in color
and texture, complementing the animals’ well-chosen words about beauty and poetry in the
natural world. Readers will take many repeat
visits to Daniel’s inviting park. —Randall Enos
Get a Hit, Mo!
By David A. Adler. Illus. by Sam Ricks.
Feb. 2016. 32p. Penguin, $14.99 (9780670016327).
Aimed at younger independent readers,
Adler’s latest features a boy who turns out to be
the youngest and smallest player on his baseball
team, the Lions. Mo is introduced at home as
he is practicing his swing (using a carrot as his
bat) and looking forward to the game ahead.
His confidence dips once he gets to the field
and sees that he’s batting last (as usual) and
playing right field (where nothing ever seems
to happen). Adler’s text is clear and straight-
forward, as the Lions and the Bears proceed
to battle it out, and Ricks’ illustrations nicely
capture Mo’s expressions as he experiences the
thrills and agonies of his baseball game. Al-
though he is nervous under pressure, Mo is
supported and encouraged by his teammates
and (female) coach, and the end is happy: a
lucky break has him leading his team to victo-
ry. A fine introduction to the wonderful world
of baseball stories. —Abby Nolan
Have You Seen Elephant?
By David Barrow. Illus. by the author.
Mar. 2016. 32p. Gecko, $16.99 (9781776570089).
Meet Elephant: he is fuzzy, he is enormous,
and he plays a mean game of hide-and-seek.
Roughly 10 times the size of his boy competitor and no stranger to the domestic realm
(you better believe Elephant fits in the foyer),
he offers but three words of warning before
commencing a most captivating game: “I’m
VERY good.” And he is. Whether he is cloaked
beneath patterned curtains, obscured by a
colossal lampshade, crouched under a violet
coverlet, or propped behind a bony tree trunk,
Elephant remains impossibly undetected. By
fusing oil pastels with watercolor and digital
media, Barrow invents an infectious world of
warm, sprawling color. While a relentless array
of overlapping hues and textures lends illustrations an airy momentum and almost woolly
consistency, the book’s dainty cursive typeface
pairs wonderfully with Elephant’s hulking
frame, which is often the focal point of (at
least) one half of each double-page spread. A
charming combination of subtle humor and irresistible artwork makes this a gem of a debut.
A Hungry Lion; or, A Dwindling
Assortment of Animals.
By Lucy Ruth Cummins. Illus. by the
Mar. 2016. 40p. Atheneum, $16.99 (9781481448895).
Meet one hungry lion and its menagerie of
animal friends. Or are they friends? One by
one, these animals disappear, while the lion
remains hungry. Perhaps the lion is to blame,
but could there be another explanation for
these rapidly disappearing critters? Cummins’
enjoyably repetitive text and droll illustrations give each animal a personality, despite
their pending departure, from the stand-out
sauciness of the lion to the affable nature of
the ever-present turtle. The stark backgrounds
play this up and allow each character to stand
out. Of course, it’s the brazen lion that drives
the story: he gets in the reader’s face, taking
up the whole page with his loud red mane
and cunning eyes, and seems curiously reserved throughout the ordeal. What’s revealed
is that the other animals have been preparing
a birthday cake for the lion—pretty great,
right? Well, Cummins has a hilariously dark
twist (two, actually) still to come. When this
devilish book ends, there will, indeed, be only
one animal left standing. —Amy Dittmeier
I’ll Catch You If You Fall.
By Mark Sperring. Illus. by Layn Marlow.
Mar. 2016. 32p. Simon & Schuster, $17.99
(9781481452069); e-book (9781481452076). PreS–K.
In this reassuring picture book, a child in
a boat asks who will watch over him. His
mother prevents him from leaning too far
overboard, but then the child wonders who
will keep them both safe. “I will steer the
boat and keep a watch,” asserts the captain.
The child then kicks the question up another
notch: Who will keep the entire ship safe? A
star in the night sky promises to guide the
boat back home to safe harbor, but “Who will
keep me safe?” The boy promises to catch the
star should it take a tumble. Brief sentences
in an oversized font stand out against de-
tailed illustrations, and the main characters
are featured in bright, attention-getting pri-
mary colors. There’s no anxiety or mounting
sense of doom, so this is suitable for even the
youngest audiences. The action takes place at
night, and the muted, dreamy background
colors are reminiscent of a bedtime story, but
this comforting message will be welcome in
any setting at any time. —Kathleen McBroom
Maxi the Little Taxi.
By Elizabeth Upton. Illus. by Henry Cole.
Mar. 2016. 32p. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545798600).
Early in the morning, Maxi (a little yellow
taxicab) is eager to start his first day on the job.
A driverless taxi, he zips around town picking
up passengers, whose ice cream drips on the
seat, while muddy puddles splash his sides, and
pigeons target him from above. By late afternoon, the little cab looks pretty dingy. His last
riders, a boy and his mother, notice the grime
and send Maxi though the car wash. Initially
terrified, he soon loves the brushes, scrubbers,
suds, and spray. Maxi ends his day clean and
content. For young children, the six-page car-wash sequence will be the high point of this
upbeat picture book. Written in rhymed couplets, the text propels the narrative at a steady
pace, while Cole’s paintings illustrate the story
with wit and verve. From panoramic views of
city streets to expressive depictions of individual people, the scenes are energized, animated,
and often amusing. Displayed with its jaunty
cover visible, this appealing picture book won’t
sit on library shelves for long. —Carolyn Phelan
Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching.
By Laura Gehl. Illus. by Joyce Wan.
Feb. 2016. 40p. Farrar, $16.99 (9780374301217).
Peep can’t wait until her friend Egg hatches,
so she tries to entice her with exciting plans.
“We can watch the sunrise from the roof of the
henhouse,” Peep suggests. But Egg is reticent:
“Too high . . . I’m not hatching.” For each of
Peep’s plans, Egg always has an excuse or justification, punctuating her point with a repeated
“I’m not hatching.” With every negative comment from her friend, Peep grows increasingly
annoyed—her unmistakable facial expressions
are marvelously rendered in Wan’s cartoonish,
thick-lined illustrations—but when Peep decides to leave Egg alone, Egg decides it’s better
to come out of her shell. Gehl’s use of hatching
as a metaphor is a great choice for the story,
particularly for little ones feeling shy them-