A sure hit that encourages independence—but not without a bit of gentle teasing.

LITTLE BEAR'S BIG HOUSE

When disgruntled Little Bear leaves his family to seek adventure outside their forest home, he finds a deserted house—and just enough adventure for one day.

The cover art makes good use of the large, vertical layout, with the comical, long-snouted Little Bear in the foreground and a red, multistoried house in the background. That art immediately poses questions that will be answered in time. For one, why is Little Bear struggling through pine trees with a ruffled, polka-dot piece of cloth tied around his neck and a standing lamp in his paws? From the beginning, text and art create giggles, because Little Bear has so many recognizable human qualities: both resentment and affection toward family members; refusal to play with peers when on an independent mission; imaginative fears; false bravado after returning to the safety of home. Young readers will appreciate the irony evident in several places, as when Little Bear insists that little boys, unlike bear cubs, are unencumbered adventurers. The surprising climax and the coda also provide irony. The text, translated (without credit) from the French, is shot through with wry, funny turns: “Little Bear takes courage into his own paws.” From the scarlet, plant-festooned endpapers to Little Bear’s hilarious antics with house amenities and from Little Bear’s imagined, Sendak-ian monsters to the details of forest animals fleeing through trees, the art perfectly complements the lighthearted text.

A sure hit that encourages independence—but not without a bit of gentle teasing. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7371-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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 reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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