Though it is not for every Jewish household, this Hanukkah book for the very young has its place.

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IS IT HANUKKAH YET?

Wintry scenes form the background for anticipation of the upcoming weeklong celebration of Hanukkah.

A young family enjoys the pleasures of playing in the snow then comes inside to a warm house, where the traditional preparations for Hanukkah begin, from creating and displaying decorations to the making of latkes to the counting of candles for the menorah. A celebratory eagerness is present in the simple rhyming text. “When glitter and paper are spread on the floors / And we hang decorations on windows and doors… / Hanukkah is on its way. / When cousins come over to stir, fry, and bake / The applesauce, latkes, and cookies we’ll make… / Hanukkah is on its way.” The sweet, charming illustrations, many in double-page spreads, depict how the family works together to celebrate with food, songs, and a game of dreidel. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the holiday’s significance or the reasons for the traditions outlined, perhaps indicating an assumed secular audience. Other aspects of the depicted celebration confirm this. They prepare decorated cookies rather than doughnuts, the traditional, oil-fried sweet treat offered after latkes, and the last scene, in which the family gazes through the window on a cold winter night, does not include the all-important lit menorah as it is placed in many traditional Jewish homes (though it is present in several interior scenes).

Though it is not for every Jewish household, this Hanukkah book for the very young has its place. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3384-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents.

TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU

A poetic ode to women who became mothers despite the challenges they faced.

Whether navigating the roughest seas, crossing the hottest deserts, or pushing through painful brambles, the mothers in this book know their long, hard journeys were worth the effort. There might have been failure and doubt, but now that it’s all over, they know they’d “do it all over again. For you.” First-person narration expresses in metaphor the extraordinary lengths some mothers will go to achieve their dream of holding a child in their arms. Sentimental and flowery, the text is broad enough to apply to the journeys of many mothers—even though the text is gender neutral, the illustrations clearly center the mother’s experience. At times another figure, often male-presenting, is shown alongside a mother. Soft, jewel-toned illustrations peppered with textures depict families with a variety of skin tones and hair colors/textures. The assortment of mothers shown demonstrates the universality of the message, but it also contributes to the absence of a strong visual throughline. In the concluding author’s note, Serhant shares her personal struggle to conceive her child, which included fertility treatments and IVF. Ultimately, although the sentiment is lovely, the message is too abstract to be understood by children and will be better received and appreciated by parents.

Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17388-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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