A final verse brings lots of kisses and a smile to baby’s face—an unusual end to a blues song, but perfect for this ballad...

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BABY'S GOT THE BLUES

A baby sings the blues, naming his many woes in each verse: wet diapers, mushy meals, legs that don’t walk quite yet and nap time in a crib that feels more like a cage.

Baby endures misery after little misery, while his nearly featureless face relays astonishment, mute pleading and chagrined surrender. Who wants to be stuck in a sling on someone’s back, anyway? Older siblings might finally find some empathy for the babies in their lives—and a few laughs too. The brilliant incongruity of a baby and blues music (usually featuring soured romance, bum luck and booze) hits all the right comedic notes. Baby’s refrain, repeated after each demoralizing episode, howls out for a singalong: B-A-B-Y, baby, Got those…baby blues. Tobia’s pen-and-ink illustrations beg for repeat visits too, with their refreshing portrayal of a bustling urban family. This mama, sporting a tattoo, tank top and a messy ponytail, takes big sister and baby to a pizza-place play date and then a walk along New York City’s High Line. Eye-squinting details (polka dots on the underside of a stuffed bunny’s ears, a paisley pattern on a blanket, etc.) and vivid colors energize these wonderfully ordinary scenes of moms and small children.

A final verse brings lots of kisses and a smile to baby’s face—an unusual end to a blues song, but perfect for this ballad about an infant’s everyday frustrations. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3260-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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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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