Reviews for Ah Ha!

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
A frog relaxes on a rock: "AAHH!" It's caught by a kid with a jar: "AH HA!" thinks the kid's dog. These phrases alternate throughout the good-naturedly persecution-driven story, during which the beleaguered amphibian fends off various animal predators. This follow-up to Good News, Bad News is even more textually minimalist, its cartoony art just as keenly composed.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 June #2
In Good News, Bad News (2012), Mack experimented with minimalism, creating text from the titular phrases alone; here, he challenges himself to dialogue created from just two letters of the alphabet, doubled and continually rearranged. A chase leads to the actions that elicit the exclamatory responses from the protagonist (a frog) and the other creatures. On the front endpaper, the amphibian floats lazily in a pond: "AAHH!" When a child and his pet come along and squeeze the web-footed victim into a jar, the dog thinks: "AH HA!" As the frog escapes and searches for refuge, each page turn reveals that the supposed "resting place" is actually a new threat; the innocent-looking log turns out to be a snapping crocodile, for instance. When the hero ultimately lunges for the safety of the jar, he shouts a triumphant "HA HA!" to the incredulous animals he has outsmarted. The closing endpapers reveal a circular resolution. Mack's mixed-media scenes are filled with bold diagonal lines that explode with energy and caricatures that leap or stretch across the gutter. The surprise of each metamorphosis and the resourcefulness of the plucky hero will engage young viewers, while beginning readers will find the elegant simplicity of the text rewarding and clever. Speech bubbles change color according to the voice. The ecologically sound and emotionally satisfying ending is sure to please all ages. (Picture book. 2-6) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #1

It's not just what you say, it's how you say it. Reprising the ultrasimplified storytelling of Good News, Bad News, Mack uses just a few interjections (and just two letters)--"AH HA," "AAHH," and "HA HA"--to capture an impressive range of emotions while telling a story that's as funny as it is fraught with incident. Frog just wants to kick back and loll in the sun, but no one else got the memo. A kid tries to take him home in a jar, and Frog's fellow ecosystem inhabitants (a turtle, gator, and flamingo) want him for a snack. "AH HA" can evoke the joy of finding the perfect snoozing place, the triumph of outfoxing a predator, or the apparently imminent triumph of said predator; "AAHH" can be a sigh of relief or Mack's version of the Wilhelm scream. Read-alouds ought to be gripping performances, with ample opportunities for audience interaction. But this is more than just a great script: it's gorgeous, too, with lush and tightly composed images, hypersaturated colors, and textures reminiscent of midcentury printing. Ages 3-5. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, East West Literary Agency. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 August

PreS-Gr 1--This nearly wordless book follows the format of Mack's Good News, Bad News (Chronicle, 2012). The text, though, is pared down to just word balloons of "AH HA!" and "AAHH!" with one "HA HA!" thrown in for good measure. Each character gets its own color for the word balloons (frog-purple, flamingo-blue, boy-yellow, etc.). The story follows the adventures of a frog who is caught in a jar by a boy and his dog ("AH HA!"). Don't worry, he escapes ("AAHH!") but lands on the back of a hungry turtle ("AH HA!") from whom he leaps away to escape being eaten ("AAHH!"), only to find himself on the back of an even hungrier crocodile ("AH HA!"). And so it goes from croc to flamingo leg and then back into the jar to the final escape ("AH HA!"). The artwork expertly captures all the action, and the animals' expressions are priceless. From happiness, pleasure, and joy to fear, anger, and smugness, Mack nails them all. The book would be great fun to read aloud, using varying tones and inflections. Pair it with Remy Charlip's Fortunately (S & S, 1961), Michael Foreman's Fortunately, Unfortunately (Andersen, 2011), and, of course, Good News, Bad News for storytimes exploring the good and the bad in as few words as possible.--Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH

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