SAM'S FIRST WORD

A decidedly cheeky first-word book.

Little Sam is the adored child of Mama and Papa. She also has a doting grandmother and a friendly neighbor named Mr. Theotopolous (whose surname suggests Greek heritage and whose light-brown complexion is darker than Sam’s light-skinned family). Everyone cheers Sam on as she achieves various milestones, and they anxiously await her first word. To humorous effect, they also each try to coach her so that word is Mama, Papa, Nana, and Mr. Theotopolous, respectively. They get so caught up in that coaching that they miss the fact that Sam is already saying her first word, repeatedly: “Poop.” Unfortunately, this punchline is given away on the book’s cover, which undermines the humor on a first reading, but this is the only misstep in a book that otherwise gets its pacing just right. Hatam’s crisp, bright illustrations capture Sam’s efforts to get the grown-ups’ attention as she finally resorts to stripping off her soiled diaper and declaring “POOP!” one final time. Like many a toddler, Sam stands proudly naked, the cartoon style presenting a frontal view of the child without anatomical detail. A clever ending reveals Sam’s second word as the cherry on top of this sweet toddler story.

Fresh, fun, and funny. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-45244-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Vibrant photographs—especially action shots—will capture children’s attention, build language skills and, one hopes, start...

FAMILIES

“We hope this book…will lead children and their parents to engage in conversation about their families.”

So begins this good-sized book, which is packed with photographs of families of many different sizes, shapes, ages and colors (although most wear casual clothing familiar to most American children). Bold, colorful type announces: “There are all kinds of families.” Engaging photographs throughout complement a simple text that informs readers about differences—such as big vs. small; genders and generations of parents; adoption vs. birth children. Positive similarities follow, as families get together for celebrations and family members help one another out and enjoy activities together. Only childless families are excluded, but that can be forgiven by the book’s noble, stated goal. Kelly adds an endnote to further encourage parents: “Recently, research psychologists have found that children who developed a strong family narrative from speaking with their parents about family history and hearing family stories, both good and bad, exhibited greater self-esteem….” As the photographs’ emotional spectrum covers the tiny range from cheerful to exuberant, it’s an open question whether this will encourage or inhibit truthful family-history revelations. However, the emphatic ending will certainly start a dialogue: “There are many different kinds of families. What about yours?”

Vibrant photographs—especially action shots—will capture children’s attention, build language skills and, one hopes, start conversations. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3053-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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