A valuable addition to the social-emotional–learning bookshelf.

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A girl learns to confront her grief, loneliness, and frustration with a trip to the beach.

In this fourth installment of her picture-book series on navigating emotions, Chandra Ghosh Ippen brings readers lonely child Ellie. The girl lives with Miss K., but what she wants is to see her mother again. Unfortunately, her mom doesn’t write or call, leaving Ellie confused about how her parent feels and whether she cares about her. Ellie tends to act out despite Miss K.’s best efforts. One day, Miss K. announces she wishes to “go to the beach and yell into the waves” but that she needs Ellie to help her. They venture out and release their frustrations into the water before meeting up with Ellie’s Uncle Finn to talk about her mom. While short, this story manages to pack healthy coping techniques, discussions of grief, and an acknowledgment of how complicated emotions can be in a kid-friendly package. Finn uses an easy-to-understand metaphor involving waves to explain what Ellie’s mom is going through in such a way that it can be applied to numerous situations that readers can relate to—though Erich Ippen Jr.’s illustrations hint that she may be struggling with a form of mental illness. Throughout the tale, the images are simple watercolor pictures that effectively use a palette that starts out dark, then switches to brighter colors as Ellie’s mood improves. All of the characters are depicted with brown skin.

A valuable addition to the social-emotional–learning bookshelf. (Picture book for ages 3-5.)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1950168101

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Piplo Productions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2022


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


It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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