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Sweet and apt, but slight. For another, more artful ursine exploration of the same question, try Sam McBratney and Anita...

A day of outdoor fun prompts a big question to Momma Bear from her two young cubs.

Cub Jacob tags Momma—"You're it!"—and the game is afoot. These bears are reasonably shaggy but anthropomorphic; Momma wears a large red-and-white apron, Jacob's in a bright blue sweater, and his sister Casey has on a red dress. Jacob throws Momma a curve when he suddenly asks, "Who do you love best?" Casey wants to know the answer to this as well. Momma answers slowly. She loves the way that Jacob makes art, and how Casey dances and that both of them make her laugh. The children make funny faces until they send themselves into gales of helpless laughter, but when that subsides, they come back at Momma with the same question. She thinks a bit before tackling it again. "You're both a part of me,…like my paws. How can I love one of my paws more than the other?" She needs them both. Or maybe they're like her legs or her arms. She needs both her arms to give them big hugs. At last the cubs get it: Momma Bear loves them both the best. She scoops them up in a big hug. "With all my heart," she says. The bright illustrations and extra-sturdy pages suit a very young readership, as does the accessible prose.

Sweet and apt, but slight. For another, more artful ursine exploration of the same question, try Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram's You're All My Favorites (2004). (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58925-648-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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