Review of What’s New, Daniel?

What’s New, Daniel? What’s New, Daniel?
by Micha Archer; illus. by the author
Preschool    Paulsen/Penguin    32 pp.
2/24    9780593461303    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780593461310    $10.99

Daniel (Daniel Finds a Poem; Daniel’s Good Day, rev. 7/19) is back in another open-hearted, child-friendly picture book. It’s spring, and Daniel is meeting his grandfather in the park. When Grandpa asks him what’s new, Daniel heads off to find out. He learns that his favorite rock is soaking up the sun, the redwing blackbirds are back, ducklings have hatched, a snake has shed its skin, tadpoles are growing legs. Daniel reports his findings and then updates Grandpa with his own news: he can whistle like blackbirds; he “can run fast ’cause [his] legs are growing, just like the pollywogs’”; and he has a new tooth, just as the snake has a new skin. The book ends with our thoughtful hero turning the tables: “Now it’s your turn, Grandpa…what’s new with you?” Archer’s expertly composed double-page-spread illustrations, in “acrylic inks and collage, using patterned collage papers created by the author,” portray a world bursting with life and vivid color: the deep blues and greens of the ducklings’ pond; the light green of new leaves; the bright spots of red on the blackbirds. (Red is also the color of Daniel’s hoodie, surely a call-out to The Snowy Day.) From the spectacular illustrations to the warm relationship between Daniel and Grandpa to Daniel’s curiosity about the natural world, there’s much to savor here; and the question of “what’s new?” may elicit a wealth of reader response and interaction.

From the January/February 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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