Nothing new—and more discouraging than most, to boot.


A small child colors instead of drawing.

In this first-person narrator’s opinion, other kids are really good at drawing, but he isn’t. Drawing, here, means being representational and realistic. Young readers will notice immediately that the child’s drawings, which the narrator denigrates, look like their own drawings. Sala’s child-style portrayals of puppies, people, and cars are no less skilled than—and quite similar to—typical children’s work; if this child’s drawings are so bad they shouldn’t be attempted, should readers stop drawing too? Never revisiting this assumption, the child seeks expression with artwork but “without drawing anything.” The child uses various hues and types of line (thick, thin, squiggly, jagged) to portray moods (happy, sad, angry,) and vibes (scary; “something full of life”). However, the premise that conveying mood through color and abstract form requires less sophistication than representational drawing is false. Making a self-portrait, this white protagonist imagines hues that will capture various aspects of personality, including “a messy, dark brown”—unfortunately linking brownness with messiness. The watercolor, pencil, and crayon illustrations cohere less than E.B. Lewis’ in Angela Johnson’s Lily Brown’s Paintings (2007), a better choice about a child-artist, with child style beautifully integrated; to explore a dynamic relationship between color and mood, see Tameka Fryer Brown and Shane W. Evans’ My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood (2013).

Nothing new—and more discouraging than most, to boot. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6275-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby.


Baby is so charming that various vendors in this West African market gift him all sorts of yummies.

Baby rides on Mama’s back, held snug by a bright cloth wrap. Mama navigates the busy, colorful outdoor market, her woven basket balanced on her head. The text unrolls rhythmically in Atinuke’s storyteller’s voice: “Market is very crowded. Baby is very curious. Baby is so curious that Mrs. Ade, the banana seller, gives Baby six bananas.” Baby eats one and puts the remaining bananas in Mama’s basket. All the while Mama shops, unbeknownst to her, vendors continue to respond to Baby’s transparent delight with five oranges, four “sugary chin-chin biscuits,” three “roasted sweet corn,” and two pieces of coconut. With each delicacy given, Baby eats one and puts the rest in the basket. When Mama sees all the extra foodstuffs she didn’t buy, she’s concerned, until the vendors reassure her: “We gave those things to Baby!” In her debut picture book, Brooksbank offers bright, bustling tableaux of shoppers, vendors, and goods. The smiling, all-black cast sort through myriad wares, while the text keeps up its rhythm, introducing both typical items bought in a West African market and a gentle lesson in arithmetic as Baby alternately snacks on and stashes his gifts.

Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9570-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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