No narrative but many questions.

THE SASQUATCH AND THE LUMBERJACK FAMILY

Those unlikely pals, the sasquatch and the lumberjack, return in this exploration of the meaning and nature of family.

Sheridan’s sequel to The Sasquatch and the Lumberjack (2018) is sparse in text and rich in visual detail, like its predecessor. Unfortunately, though the artwork is as delightful as ever, this book lacks the clarity of the first; here, the message is ambiguous and the cast confusing. Even the title confuses. Is this the story of the sasquatch and the family of the lumberjack or a meditation on family presented by the sasquatch and the lumberjack? The spine suggests the latter; the typeface for “Family” is twice the size of the rest of the title. The front cover seems to say “...the Lumberjack Family.” Maybe a colon is in order? Ten successive double-page spreads with a single word of text apiece present a series of terms: “friends” (our titular pals), “Ma,” “Pa,” “Grammie,” “Gramps,” “Sister,” “Brother,” “Aunt,” “Uncle,” and, finally, simply, “family.” The spare text invites kids to create their own narrative, but the concepts in the first book (“autumn,” “slide,” and “forage,” for example) were more easily depicted and inferred than the familial connections portrayed here. The lumberpersons are racially mixed (white, black, Asian) but the relationships aren’t clear, and there are sasquatch siblings and baby bigfoots, too. Is this two families? One family? What is a family? Readers open to pursuing the possibilities will have much to think about.

No narrative but many questions. (Board book. 2-6)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63217-270-9

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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