Don’t sleep on this one.

EVERYONE'S AWAKE

An energetic, insomniac romp of an anti-bedtime book.

A wakeful child narrator recounts the goings-on in a large, multiracial family’s zany household long after everyone should be asleep. Rhyming verse with a singsong cadence details activities ranging from the mundane (“Grandma’s at her needlework. / Dad is baking bread. / My brother’s making laundry lists / of every book he’s read”) to the bizarre (“Now Mom just took an audience / with Queen Sigrid the Third. / My brother has just taught the cat a dozen dirty words”). It’s a rollicking read-aloud, but inconsistent line breaks may cause some to slip up upon first reading. Pop-culture references pep things up and range from the stodgy (Sinatra, “Clementine”) to the very contemporary (poke tattoos, the film Condorman), though the conceit drags on a bit too long. Throughout, Harris’ illustrations have a retro feel that evokes, at turns, Tomie Ungerer and Maira Kalman, and they expand on the details of the text to ratchet up the humor and drama—building on the mention of a lake to depict the setting not as a mere house but an elaborate lighthouse. The conclusion shows the narrator descending the stairs to find everyone asleep at daybreak, a predictable, yet satisfying, end.

Don’t sleep on this one. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7805-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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New dads will eat this up.

MADE FOR ME

A giant hulk of a man describes his emotions as his child captures his heart.

“On the day you were born, I beamed with pride. / My eyes filled with tears. I joyfully cried. / From the moment I saw you and called out your name, / the world as I knew it was never the same.” The rest of the book proceeds to demonstrate just how thoroughly this tot has their father wrapped around their finger and shows the dad lovingly caring for his growing child’s every need: bottles, diapers, soothing, tickling, feeding, bathing, playing, reading, and exploring the world. While the rhyme and rhythm aren’t always spot-on and one illustration depicts a crib instead of the cradle referred to in the text, there is no denying the appeal of this father-child pair, as their bond is more than apparent. The dichotomy between the tiny redheaded tot and the giant lumberjack–look-alike dad—red plaid shirt, blue jeans, full red beard and mustache, and tiny head perched atop a round body with tree-trunk forearms—both white, adds to the sweet sentimentality (sometimes slipping into saccharine) of this book. While young children may relish the opportunity to use this as a springboard for hearing about their own babyhoods with their dads, new fathers are just as likely an audience, the sweet refrain—“Of all the children that ever could be, / you are the one made just for me”—tugging at heartstrings.

New dads will eat this up. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-945547-69-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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