A beautiful, quiet, indoor-outdoor family story that will dazzle the eye and warm the heart.

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ONLY THE CAT SAW

An animal’s-eye view of a typical night on a farm.

As Tessa, a little curly-haired, olive-skinned girl, her father, mother, and baby brother, Sam, progress through an evening, a night, and a morning, their yellow-eyed, marmalade tabby cat sees much that the humans miss. Following each refrain of “only the cat saw...” is a wordless, double-page spread of the cat prowling about: gazing at the sheep from the window; catching fireflies; watching an owl hunt a mouse; and more. After the tabby’s active night, the narrative shifts to Tessa’s perspective for a satisfying ending. Wolff’s spectacularly textured, highly saturated paintings show that cats who wander have lives all their own, independent of their owners. With these new illustrations accompanying a text first published in 1985, Wolff also offers intimate views of this multiracial family that are rarely found in picture books: Readers see Tessa’s head and legs as she sits on the toilet at 2 a.m.; Mother nurses Sam in bed while Father sleeps. Since the book opens with Father hanging laundry on the clothesline while holding baby Sam in a baby carrier and ends with Father feeding Sam while Mother cooks breakfast, it seems that both parents take an equal share in raising the children and caring for the house.

A beautiful, quiet, indoor-outdoor family story that will dazzle the eye and warm the heart. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6692-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents.

TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU

A poetic ode to women who became mothers despite the challenges they faced.

Whether navigating the roughest seas, crossing the hottest deserts, or pushing through painful brambles, the mothers in this book know their long, hard journeys were worth the effort. There might have been failure and doubt, but now that it’s all over, they know they’d “do it all over again. For you.” First-person narration expresses in metaphor the extraordinary lengths some mothers will go to achieve their dream of holding a child in their arms. Sentimental and flowery, the text is broad enough to apply to the journeys of many mothers—even though the text is gender neutral, the illustrations clearly center the mother’s experience. At times another figure, often male-presenting, is shown alongside a mother. Soft, jewel-toned illustrations peppered with textures depict families with a variety of skin tones and hair colors/textures. The assortment of mothers shown demonstrates the universality of the message, but it also contributes to the absence of a strong visual throughline. In the concluding author’s note, Serhant shares her personal struggle to conceive her child, which included fertility treatments and IVF. Ultimately, although the sentiment is lovely, the message is too abstract to be understood by children and will be better received and appreciated by parents.

Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17388-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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