The welcome modern twist to Saltzberg’s intergenerational story is sweetly affirming for today’s far-flung families.

TEA WITH GRANDPA

A young girl and her grandpa do not let distance keep them from their daily commitment to have tea together.

Bespectacled Grandpa meets up with his curly-haired granddaughter “[e]very day at half past three” to spend time with each other. Tea is poured, stories are told, songs are sung, and much laughter is shared. Observant readers will notice the girl’s pet cat and Grandpa’s pup cavorting as the gentle vignettes go back and forth between the two characters. Pastel-hued illustrations in what look like watercolor with details drawn using fine black lines have a cheerful cartoon style. Each spread presents one page with a simple line or two of gently rhyming text opposite a vignette of either Grandpa or the little girl. Even though the background colors subtly change from green for the girl’s scenes to pale blue for the grandfather’s, few will predict the unexpected ending that increases this title’s charm and timeliness. When Grandpa says, “I’d like some muffin,” his granddaughter tells him he is “[t]oo far away.” But on the following page, they almost clink their cups together against a pink, heart-shaped background and say their goodbyes face to face…through the computer.

The welcome modern twist to Saltzberg’s intergenerational story is sweetly affirming for today’s far-flung families. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-894-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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