TWO HOMES

Rising above the standard fare in this genre, with their deadly prose and workaday illustrations, this offering is not afraid to state the obvious: Alex’s mommy and daddy don’t live together. Alex matter-of-factly explains it: “Daddy lives here. Sometimes I live with Daddy. Mommy lives there. Sometimes I’m with Mommy.” Writing about a now-common experience for many young children, Masurel (Good Night!, 1997) has successfully created a reassuring addition to the separated-parents bibliotherapy booklist. Alternating between Dad’s and Mom’s, Denton’s watercolor, gouache, and ink illustrations display an intimate knowledge of the complete lives of the city-dwelling Mom and the country-living Dad. At Mommy’s there’s a big, comfy chair to cuddle up in and read; at Daddy’s a child-sized rocking chair. There are separate but equal accommodations, too, including a dog at Dad’s and an aquarium full of fish at Mom’s. Alex is nearly gender-neutral, dressed in a kid uniform of cotton pants and shirt (red at Dad’s and blue at Mom’s) with straight hair bobbed at ear length. This portrayal allows all children the opportunity to identify with the young narrator. On page after page, Alex and his parents engage in the pleasant common activities of early childhood, from playing dress-up with an assortment of friends, taking a bath, and shucking peas at Dad’s, to baking gingerbread men at Mom’s. An extremely positive take on an often-painful subject. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-0511-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

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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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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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