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Not perfect but still soothingly reassuring for children learning to share parents with the workplace.

There's a talkative shoe for every occasion.

Perry the preschooler loves that each kind signals a special time with Mama. Want to cuddle on the couch? Slide into the “swish-swush” slippers. Want to splash in the rain? Pull on the “pat-put” rain boots. Chatty footgear carries Perry happily from one mother-daughter adventure to another—until the arrival of the dreaded “click-clack” shoes. These strange high-heeled contraptions don’t take Mama to Perry, they take Mama away from Perry. After tearful fits and starts and plenty of patience from Mama and Nan, the little girl accepts that even though the click-clack shoes take her mother to work, they also bring her back in time for some bare foot-to-foot “tickle-tickle” sharing. Levis’ concept of associating specific shoes with specific bonding activities is charming, but it’s undercut by rampant onomatopoeia. Instead of limiting the sounds only to shoes, which are nearly protagonists in and of themselves, the text gives voices to the door, the kiss, and more. This, coupled with overlong intervals with Nan, somewhat disrupts both the narrative flow and the emotional impact. Brantley-Newton’s collaged depictions of a middle-class, rambunctious, mixed-race child, her exuberant single mother, and the vivacious Nan (both women of color) are bright and dynamic.

Not perfect but still soothingly reassuring for children learning to share parents with the workplace. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2554-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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From the Big Bright Feelings series

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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