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Sure to induce giggles and maybe even defuse some tension surrounding kids’ own back-to-school shopping.

Even the best-laid plans pale in the face of nostalgia….

Today is the day Mommy and Daddy are taking their little “Pickle Quackers” back-to-school shopping. And for the hundred-millionth time, they remind Jenny and her little brother, Jake, of the No. 1 rule: “We only buy what’s on the list.” But when Mommy goes to shop for some household items and leaves Daddy in charge, he’s assaulted by requests of all sorts, which he refuses…until he wants something for himself that isn’t on the list. In a wonderfully funny role reversal, Jenny crosses her arms and stands firm, while Jake brandishes the list and smugly states, “Not seeing it here.” The coveted item is the very lunchbox that Daddy loved as a child, and he just has to have it, even if that means buying a cartload of items that similarly are not on the list. But then Mommy returns and puts paid to the foolishness, though maybe there is room on the list for a gift….Carter’s illustrations, which appear to be watercolor, depict a close family that knows how to have fun, even when shopping: they try out a crazy new clothing style. Her facial expressions are masterful, especially in the scene in which Daddy hugs the lunchbox in the store, shoppers looking at him askance.

Sure to induce giggles and maybe even defuse some tension surrounding kids’ own back-to-school shopping. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8421-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Affectionate and affirming.

Today co-anchor Melvin pens an ode to the father-son bond.

A dad lists all the things he admires about his son, including the boy’s willingness to face his fears (such as diving into the swimming pool) and his ability to “make people laugh, / bring joy to folks.” The child shows “kindness and grace” when apologizing for a mistake, and he perseveres in the face of failure (“They can’t all be wins”). The boy has an inquisitive mind (“You ask questions and investigate. / Who knows what you’ll find?”), and he’s a caring big brother who loves building sand castles with his younger sibling. Ultimately, the father salutes his son for the person he is “through good times and bad, / no matter what.” Melvin conveys the joy of watching a child grow into a strong, capable adult while maintaining a sense of childlike wonder. Rather than focusing on traditionally masculine activities or attitudes, he celebrates qualities such as emotional intelligence and a nurturing spirit. While the text on occasion dips into sentimentality, overall Melvin delivers a sound message. Cloud’s digital illustrations depict the family and their diverse community with expressive faces, capturing their myriad emotions and lending the book an exuberant tone. The father presents Black, his partner appears white, and the tan-skinned children are biracial; all are unnamed.

Affectionate and affirming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063206137

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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