FAMILIES BELONG

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Another branded entry that offers little beyond the minimum requirements.

TRICK OR TREAT, POUT-POUT FISH

From the Pout-Pout Fish Mini Adventure series

The Pout-Pout Fish brand expands.

Halloween is here, and Mr. Pout-Pout Fish is giving out treats from his submarine home. Those familiar with the blue striped fish will find the usual uncluttered illustrations and rhyming scheme (“Who’s at the helm / of the spooky submarine? // It’s you, Mr. Fish! / Have a happy Halloween!”). New readers may be drawn in by the colorful costumes the various fish wear as they trick-or-treat along the ocean floor. Keen-eyed readers with some pumpkin-carving experience may wonder how a jack-o’-lantern can be lit under water. This board book is a fairly standard look at Halloween, putting a popular character in common holiday trappings and adding nothing else. Fans of the holiday will have to look elsewhere for a more exciting take on Halloween’s thrills.

Another branded entry that offers little beyond the minimum requirements. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30191-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Superlative silliness.

MY DAD IS AMAZING

Extol the virtues of parents in this and its companion volume, My Mom is Magical.

Each of these winning board books is dedicated to the respective, titular parent of the author-and-illustrator team, sisters Sabrina and Eunice Moyle, who together are the design studio Hello!Lucky. The over-the-top enthusiasm of these volumes may, therefore, be reasonably excused, as the creative team’s love for their subjects seems as sincere as it is hyperbolic. A series of wild metaphors and analogies celebrate Dad or Mom; the near-blinding bright colors and kinetic, even chaotic illustrations perfectly complement the exuberant text. “My Dad is cooler than a million Popsicles!” “My Mom is cuddlier than a mountain yak!” A friendly, hipsterized yeti that looks like an extra from Where the Wild Things Are plays Dad, while Mom is rendered as a sparkly unicorn with rainbow mane and tail—who strikes heroic poses. Descriptive phrasing ranges from sweet to laugh-out-loud silly: Dad, for example, is “funnier than a bunch of underpants!” Funny indeed! Each volume ends by switching voices to break the fourth wall: “Kid, you’re amazing” (or “magical”) “too!” Both books are visual treats, sure to engage with their brilliant hues and inventive (if occasionally stereotypical) images. Dad is imagined at one point as a masked, lucha libre wrestler, for example, and Mom teaches a classroom of owlets mathematical formulae in glasses and an “I [heart] Math” T-shirt. Families may want both books, or either, as applicable.

Superlative silliness. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2961-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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