This message of friendship, though oft told, bears repeating, especially for the youngest readers.

EVERY LITTLE LETTER

An allegory about accepting one another, one letter at a time.

In a land where high walls separate each of the 26 letters (seen in the endpapers), life is rather monotonous. The H’s live only with other H’s and therefore speak just one letter: H. The same is true for the rest of the alphabet, all walled off and safe from one another. Then an intrepid lowercase h discovers a hole in the wall, reaches through, and discovers…a lowercase i! Ecstatic, they greet each other, but their happiness is cut short when the capital letters discover and forbid their friendship. Disheartened, the two friends send letters (in the form of paper airplanes) that soar over many walls, unexpectedly offering new opportunities to x’s, b’s, y’s, and more. Once again the capital letters try to interfere, but the lowercase letters have discovered that the most important words of all—“courage,” “kindness,” “trust”—are made up of many letters and can break down walls. Expressive, anthropomorphic letters, set in a bright, pastel palette, lend the book a cartoon look and feel that keeps the story lighthearted. Spreads alternate between vignettes and full-page illustrations to keep readers engaged. Even pre-readers will recognize letters set in bold, big shapes, enabling caregivers to incorporate early-literacy lessons into the read-aloud experience.

This message of friendship, though oft told, bears repeating, especially for the youngest readers. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55402-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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Aspirational—but not quite ascending to the inspirational.

MY VOICE IS A TRUMPET

Explores different ways one’s voice can be used.

The unidentified narrator begins by chronicling different types of voices: “loud and proud,” “soft and sweet,” “patient and wise,” and more. The Deaf community is included in both text and art, and sign language is alluded to: “There’s a voice that is silent / but STILL CAN BE HEARD / with hands that move / to speak EVERY word.” The vibrant, colorful art presents an array of children of different races and skin tones. Unfortunately, this well-meaning book does not cohere. The art in some spreads does not appear to augment or even connect to the text. For example, the lines “I’LL SAY NO TO HATE / by using this voice / and ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE— / a magical choice” are illustrated with a spread of four children: one playing the trumpet, another singing, one with a drum major’s hat and baton, and the final child skateboarding. Readers may be confused by how these images apply to the text since they have no direct relation to saying no to hate or choosing love. Spreads with children holding protest signs feel disconnected to the present moment with no Black Lives Matter or BLM–related signs depicted. Some text excludes nonbinary children, asserting “we’re SISTERS / and BROTHERS.”

Aspirational—but not quite ascending to the inspirational. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35218-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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