THE WEDDING DRESS MESS

A zealous seamstress very nearly misses out on her own wedding when she places the emphasis on her dress, not the occasion. It makes perfect sense that the “finest seamstress in Italy” would have ambitious dreams for her own wedding dress. Indeed, “Whenever Filomena stitched a wedding dress, she’d get a dreamy look on her face. ‘If this were my wedding dress,’ she’d sigh. . . . ” So when Filippo, the fix-it man across the plaza finally works up the courage to propose, Filomena happily accepts and starts in on her dress, leaving Filippo to his own designs. When the dress is finally finished, it is such an overdone horror that Filippo flees the altar, prompting Filomena to realize that she’s lost sight of what is really important about a wedding. Cantone’s (Zara Zebra Counts, not reviewed, etc.) mixed-media illustrations feature elongated, almost conical line-and-watercolor characters (each with a distinctly pronounced and delicately rouged nose) against wild backgrounds that mix collage elements with free-floating text (in English, for the most part). The wild-eyed Filomena and Filippo have a definite zany appeal, as does the spread in which a fleeing Filippo rides his scooter along a nuptial game-board path, a de-frocked Filomena in full pursuit. Hort’s translation, too, has considerable tongue-in-cheek zip: “She hustled out of her bustle.” But there’s something missing in the story itself: while little girls may have a fascination with weddings, the narrative has a distinctly adult sensibility. Filomena’s essential mistake—her preoccupation with preparations to the exclusion of her fiancé—is not one children will likely be able to relate to. This energetic Italian import may make a good gag gift for engaged couples—but not so great for its intended young audience. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-8230-1738-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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