Simultaneously confronts homophobia and celebrates child-powered change in Hindu communities: a delight.

RITU WEDS CHANDNI

Ayesha loves her cousin Ritu, and she loves weddings. So naturally, on Ritu didi’s wedding day, Ayesha is bursting with excitement!

Except that Ritu’s is no ordinary Hindu wedding: Instead of marrying a man, Ritu is marrying her girlfriend, Chandni. This means that Ritu will be leading the baraat, a celebratory procession full of music and dancing that, in Hindu weddings, is traditionally led by the groom. But it also means that many of Ayesha’s family shun the wedding, that neighbors shout unkind words at the baraat as it goes by, and that strangers turn hoses on the wedding party to try to stop the festivities. When Ayesha sees the way that the world treats her favorite cousin, she is heartbroken—but she is also determined. In the end, it is Ayesha’s love for her family—and commitment to every minute of wedding fun—that saves the day. The book’s well-paced, heartfelt narration deftly celebrates the power of resistance without shirking the harsh realities of homophobia in many traditional Hindu communities. The vivid, authentic illustrations, which implicitly set the book in India, showcase a variety of skin colors and body types in a true reflection of South Asia’s diversity. Ayesha’s unconditional love for her cousin and her spunky insistence on continuing with the wedding ceremonies even in the face of intense hatred are moving and inspiring.

Simultaneously confronts homophobia and celebrates child-powered change in Hindu communities: a delight. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949528-94-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Yali Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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