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THE JAR OF HAPPINESS

Sweet and simple.

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. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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