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HUSH A BYE, BABY

From the New Books for Newborns series

This multiethnic title is not memorable enough to become a bedtime favorite.

This third title in the New Books for Newborns series features multiethnic dads getting their infants ready for bed.

Each double-page spread shows a different child with their male parent engaged in bedtime rituals. Four lines of rhyming text, each time starting with the same first line, point out nighttime objects. “Hush a bye, my baby. / Can you hear the owl call? / Time to close your eyes gently / as night starts to fall.” The text is for the most part simple and uses familiar vocabulary, but sometimes scansion falters. Although the hair and skin colors in this book range from pale to rich brown, most of the dad-and-child pairs seem to be racially similar, and no distinctly biracial child is depicted. Illustrations in a soothing pastel palette show a fair-skinned, red-haired dad carrying a tired, fair-skinned, brown-haired baby up the stairs; a dad with brown skin and brown hair holds a similar-looking baby wrapped in a towel; and a dad and child with dark hair and dark skin rock together in a chair, reading a book. Most of the dads are shown to be affectionate but not interactive with their infants. This series is meant for newborns, but the fine-lined, busy, and sometimes conceptually abstract illustrations may be more suitable for toddlers or even young preschoolers.

This multiethnic title is not memorable enough to become a bedtime favorite. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0139-6

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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FAMILIES BELONG

A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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SMILE, POUT-POUT FISH

An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to.

This simplified version of Diesen and Hanna’s The Pout-Pout Fish (2008) is appropriate for babies and toddlers.

Brief, rhyming text tells the story of a sullen fish cheered up with a kiss. A little pink sea creature pokes his head out of a hole in the sea bottom to give the gloomy fish some advice: “Smile, Mr. Fish! / You look so down // With your glum-glum face / And your pout-pout frown.” He explains that there’s no reason to be worried, scared, sad or mad and concludes: “How about a smooch? / And a cheer-up wish? // Now you look happy: / What a smile, Mr. Fish!” Simple and sweet, this tale offers the lesson that sometimes, all that’s needed for a turnaround in mood is some cheer and encouragement to change our perspective. The clean, uncluttered illustrations are kept simple, except for the pout-pout fish’s features, which are delightfully expressive. Little ones will easily recognize and likely try to copy the sad, scared and angry looks that cross the fish’s face.

An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-37084-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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