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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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 heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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