The free-spirited illustrations, the detailed urban setting, and Fergus’ close connections with his friends are sure to make...

FERGUS BARNABY GOES ON VACATION

The Barnaby family is getting ready to go on vacation, but Fergus keeps forgetting things.

Young Fergus Barnaby, a small fuzzy bear, is trying to close his overstuffed suitcase but realizes several crucial items are missing. The family lives on the first floor of a typical New York brownstone apartment building, so Fergus must climb the stairs to the second floor to retrieve his bucket and shovel from his giraffe friend Fred; to the third floor to get his goggles from his hippo friend Emily Rose; and to the roof to get his kite from his monkey friend Teddy. The friends are each depicted in their distinctly styled living spaces, most interestingly Fred’s jazz studio. As with Barrow’s earlier Have You Seen Elephant? (2016), the illustrations are skillfully rendered in a splashy, textured watercolor style, with lots of interesting details. Clues to the personalities of the characters abound in the drawings taped to the walls, pictures on a fridge, and, sweetly, plants labeled with Fergus’ and Teddy’s names on Teddy’s balcony. Finally packed up, Fergus and Dad set off for the beach in their purple VW Bug only to realize a terrible omission: “We forgot MOM!!”

The free-spirited illustrations, the detailed urban setting, and Fergus’ close connections with his friends are sure to make this a hit with every child looking forward to a trip. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4380-5009-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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