GREAT DOG

Playful design contributes to the success of this warmhearted book.

A playful story about familial pride and unconditional love.

An anthropomorphic dog in a tweed sports coat tells his child, who wears a sweater and a cap, about family members as they look at a family portrait gallery. Each spread with a portrait has the father recounting a great accomplishment on a turquoise-backgrounded verso. Then the recto opens as a gatefold to reveal a picture of the relative that humorously undermines that account. For example, a uniformed bulldog was “the pride of the police,” but the underlying gatefold illustration reveals the police dog to be oblivious to three black-clad robber dogs absconding with their loot behind him. The child, presumably unaware of those contradictory backstories, interjects to ask, “What about me?” The father responds with the titular phrase: “You will be a GREAT dog!” In the final exchange, however, the father amends his statement in a concluding gatefold that finds the cap falling off to reveal cat ears. “You will be a great dog, a magnificent dog… / Or a great CAT. It’s up to you!” The message of unconditional love reveals the father as a great dad, but readers may wonder why the child was concealing their feline self until this moment. The illustrations feature a strong sense of line and pattern, with hints of turquoise, gold, and brown popping against white backgrounds.

Playful design contributes to the success of this warmhearted book. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-91917-0

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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