HOME IN THE RAIN

A mother-daughter road trip with feels aplenty.

A rainstorm imperils Francie and her mother as they drive home in their little red car after visiting Grandma, anticipating the return of Francie’s father who’s been away for work. Race isn’t named in the text, though the two are illustrated as light-skinned black people. Roads are perilous with heavy traffic, and then a big rig careens by, forcing them “up into the picnic area,” where they wait out the storm. Background characters, named and specified in narration, separately endure the rain, while Francie and her mother eat a picnic in the car. Textual references to an unseen “Baby Sister” are clarified when Francie asks, “What will her name be, Mommy?” “Well, she’s not quite with us yet,” Mom responds, and Francie suggests names for her sister, still in utero. It’s not until later at a gas station that Mom is struck with inspiration, though no one milling about in their own specific lives notices—not “Sam Miller feeding his dog fried chicken legs. Nor by Kate Calder losing her Sour Fruity Fizzes from a hole in her pocket.” Mom hugs Francie and tells her the baby’s name will be Grace. It’s a name befitting the quiet solemnity of a story that highlights the everyday wonders of human experience, lovingly depicted in Graham’s characteristically humorous, soft ink-and-watercolor illustrations.

Amazing. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9269-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2017

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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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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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