A gentle and playful celebration of difference and self-discovery.

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MY SHAPE IS SAM

A square who loves to roll instead of build surprises his community with his new talent and gains confidence in himself.

In Sam the square’s world of shapes, everyone has a job to do. Stable squares like Sam help construct towers and bridges, while speedy circles zoom from place to place as wheels on trains and trucks. Dissatisfied with his role in life, Sam decides to try something bold. He learns to roll and discovers joy by being himself. Debut author Jackson uses the familiar concept of shapes as a metaphor to discuss difference and identity. Bright and active digital illustrations accompany the text, expressing Sam’s love for movement. Although the initial language that Sam doesn’t “feel like a square” despite his “four pointy corners” paired with a depiction of Sam as a circle inside a square suggests a born-in-the-wrong-body narrative, Sam ultimately claims his shape and finds his own way to label himself. His corners become subtly rounder after the first time he rolls. In contrast to similar titles, such as Michael Hall’s Red: A Crayon’s Story (2015), Sam’s community encourages his behavior. The other shapes are excited to see a square roll, and the circles welcome him into rolling jobs. This positive support strengthens the underlying message that exploring identity and self-expression brings happiness.

A gentle and playful celebration of difference and self-discovery. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-770-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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