Instructive but punctuated with excitement—a rousing read-aloud work.

PLING'S PARTY

An exclamation point is too exuberant to follow the rules in this picture book.

Pling, a smiling exclamation point with an expressive face, must follow an unnamed narrator’s one rule: “He can only be in a book two times.” But dramatic events all around him just seem to call for Pling, from a sudden rainstorm to Baby Goat’s wonderful birthday party, which keeps erupting into action: “Presents! Disco light! Broken chairs! Roller skates! Ice cream! Chewed-up hats! Hot dogs! Confetti!” When the narrator decides that disobedient Pling’s services are no longer necessary, the party becomes glum and lifeless, with dispirited periods rather than exclamation points: “So much fun. All the fun you could have.” Finally, Pling is recalled to end things on a happy note—“but no getting carried away.” Children learning about punctuation can get a good sense of how to use the exclamation point through the contrasting situations that do and don’t call for emphasis. Haughee’s lesson goes down easy, with plenty of creative anarchy for kids to enjoy and sentences that beg to be vigorously read aloud. The skillful digital and acrylic illustrations by Holm are appropriately vibrant, fun, and varied.

Instructive but punctuated with excitement—a rousing read-aloud work.

Pub Date: April 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949935-14-1

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Orange Blossom Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2020

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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