CAROLINE AND THE NOT-MAMMA

An absolutely hilarious family tale, entertainingly illustrated and empathetic.

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In this picture book, a grandmother looks after her grumpy little granddaughter.

Caroline, a pale-skinned toddler who wears a pink tutu and striped top, isn’t happy that her parents are leaving her for a short time with her grandmother. For the little girl, what this means is dealing with “Not-Mamma.” Patient and unflappable, Caroline’s grandmother fixes a meal, cleans the girl’s high chair, and takes her to the park. They have such a good time that on returning home, Caroline gets over her bad mood and crawls on her grandmother’s lap for a story before her nap. Leary, in this third installment of her Happy Happy After Story series, offers a charming, quietly tender, and very funny take on the melodramatic emotions of small children. For example, when Caroline throws a tantrum because Not-Mamma might eat her with her “terrifying teeth,” the narration drolly reads: “ ‘Oh dear, Caroline,’ said Not-Mamma, not eating her.” The repetitions, including Caroline’s screaming fits, also work well. The images by Kochetova are as delightfully amusing as the text and contribute to the story through elements like the family cat’s expressive reactions.

An absolutely hilarious family tale, entertainingly illustrated and empathetic.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7340258-6-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Coquina Press

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

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

LOTS OF LOVE LITTLE ONE

FOREVER AND ALWAYS

So sweet it’ll have readers heading for their toothbrushes.

Another entry in the how-much-I-love-you genre.

The opening spread shows a blue elephant-and-child pair, the child atop the adult, white hearts arcing between their uplifted trunks: “You’re a gift and a blessing in every way. / I love you more each and every day.” From there, the adult elephant goes on to tell the child how they are loved more than all sorts of things, some rhyming better than others: “I love you more than all the spaghetti served in Rome, // and more than each and every dog loves her bone.” More than stars, fireflies, “all the languages spoken in the world,” “all the dancers that have ever twirled,” all the kisses ever given and miles ever driven, “all the adventures you have ahead,” and “all the peanut butter and jelly spread on bread!” Representative of all the world’s languages are “I love you” in several languages (with no pronunciation help): English, Sioux, French, German, Swahili, Spanish, Hawaiian, Chinese, and Arabic (these two last in Roman characters only). Bold colors and simple illustrations with no distracting details keep readers’ focus on the main ideas. Dashed lines give the artwork (and at least one word on every spread) the look of 2-D sewn toys.

So sweet it’ll have readers heading for their toothbrushes. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8398-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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