THIRSTY BABY

Burnished watercolors transform a so-so story. With a wobbly line of ink, they give an offbeat interpretation to Cullen’s (The Magical, Mystical, Marvelous Coat, 2001) theme that is like a gift. For it’s a fun but unexceptional member of the child-who-ate-too-much school. “ ‘I’m thirsty,’ said the baby, ‘and I need a drink.’ ” Dad delivers a bottle, but the baby says, “I’m thirsty, and I want more!” Well, Mom has run him a bath and that will do just fine. “More!” His sister takes him for a row in the pond. “He started with a sip, and the finished with a sup, / And the pond in the park, well, he drank it all up.” And so goes the river he visits with his grandmother and the sea he visits with his grandfather. “ ‘That’s enough!’ said the baby. ‘Now it’s time to stop. / That’s enough!’ said the baby. Not another drop!’ ” Until bedtime, anyway. The rhyme has a tone poem’s musicality and the kind of pleasing repetition that gets the toe tapping. But it’s McPhail’s (Sisters, 2002, etc.) art that lifts the whole production to another, comfortably seedy level, full of mud and discarded tires and old cannonballs, stranded whales and unhappy turtles and tattered Jolly Rogers. A call to row your boat upon Cullen’s poem and, with a great inclusive hug, into McPhail’s world. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-316-16357-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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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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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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