Sweet and simple.

READ REVIEW

THE JAR OF HAPPINESS

A little girl loses her happiness...but just for a while.

Curly-haired brunette Meg has her own secret recipe for happiness. She puts a dab of this and a spoonful of that into a jar and carries it with her everywhere, trailed by her faithful cat. It's her jar of happiness. It's red, yellow, and "all the other best colors." She uses the jar to cheer up her glum friend Zoe and to bring a smile to her grandmother, who has been feeling under the weather. And Meg's little brother, Leon, who gets on her nerves sometimes, also gets the benefit of the happiness jar...sometimes. One day, Meg's jar goes missing; she can't find it anywhere. Zoe arrives to cheer her up, and Oma gives her a big hug and lots of tickles. Leon goes all out, dressing as a monster and performing for his sister; he says that thinking happy thoughts can scare away "gloomy feelings, bad smells and even monsters.” By the end of the day, Meg still hasn't found her jar, but she has found happiness and can sleep soundly. The final illustration puckishly shows the solution to the mystery of the missing jar of happiness. Burrows' gentle tale is gracefully told and well-pitched to a very young audience, with minimal text, clean compositions, and plenty of white space. Meg and her family are white, while Zoe has light-brown skin and straight, dark hair.

Sweet and simple. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84643-729-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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