ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO!

It’s tough having a little brother, even if you’re a monster.

“Once there was Natalie,” a little red monster with big bulging eyes. “And then, there was Alphonse too,” bright blue and about half her size. Natalie doesn’t mind Alphonse, “mostly.” They sit companionably in Mom’s lap to listen to a story. They like to name the pigeons together and love making things. But sometimes Alphonse gets carried away, drawing on things that Natalie has made—even eating them. Natalie hates that. One day she finds him under the bunk beds eating her favorite book. “ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO!” she shouts. When Alphonse timidly suggests that maybe they could fix the book (“with jam”), Natalie puts her fingers in her ears so that she can’t hear him, then goes for her bath. While she’s in the tub, she hears a series of strange noises: “a roaring tornado, / screeching beasts, and a thousand glass peas raining from the sky.” Natalie finds Alphonse in his room, sad and exhausted. All the noises that she heard were his outlandish attempts to fix the book. Her only question: “Are you hurt?” Hirst’s screen-printed illustrations, bright primary palette, simple text, and even her bespoke, faux hand-printed typeface (WB Natalie Alphonse) suggest the work of a young child, giving her simple tale an authentic charm.

Sweet and effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8103-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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