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Playful narration and amusing artwork will prompt readers to say, just like Edgar, “Again.” (Picture book. 2-6)

Baby Edgar’s first word (“NO!”) drives his sister crazy, especially since she waited so long to hear it.

Curly-headed Hazel, eager to share books and playtime with her lump of a brother, shines as a refreshing foil to the snarling older sibling whose resentment simmers in so many picture books these days. Hazel’s failed attempts to play school, store, farm, (or even to squeeze the “squeaky-honky-quacky duck”) with little Edgar evoke empathy from readers and a stream of NO!s from the tiny (but mighty) tot. Hand lettering makes Edgar’s NO!s seem LOUD even to a silent reader. After a whole day of insistent negativity (screeching scenes shown on crisp white pages), she’s about ready to give up on brother bonding. Mother manages to smile through spilled cereal, botched bathtime and even a loud library run, and fluid ink-and-watercolor illustrations offer lots of optimistic springtime colors (greens, yellows, purples), as well as a serene matte finish. Plucky, pitch-perfect kid vernacular keeps the story upbeat too, full of silly run-on descriptors; Hazel hopes that Edgar goes from a “pointing, grunting watermelon” to a “not-no-saying lamb of a ram.” Exhausted by his own naysaying, Edgar finds himself settled on Hazel’s lap for a bedtime read—and offers a second word that finally brings them together.

Playful narration and amusing artwork will prompt readers to say, just like Edgar, “Again.” (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-547-68462-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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