Benign but bland.

READ REVIEW

A BEAN AND CHEESE TACO BIRTHDAY / UN CUMPLEAÑOS CON TACOS DE FRIJOLES CON QUESO

Darío is excited for his younger brother Ariel’s upcoming birthday. How will the family celebrate?

Darío hopes that Ariel’s fifth birthday celebration will be as exciting as his was, with a huge party, all of his friends, and lots of presents. He can’t believe it when Ariel decides that all he wants is to eat bean and cheese tacos with his family in the park. How disappointing! But when the day arrives, Darío begins to see and feel how the little things make the day truly special for Ariel. Mom and Dad (Mamá and Papá in the parallel Spanish translation) pick the boys up from school together. The park is nearly empty, and they have the playground to themselves. The simple bean and cheese tacos are delicious. Ended here, the book would be a sweet tale of savoring the simple things in life. Unfortunately, it meanders on. The boys meet the park ranger, who takes them for a ride in his ranger car and shows them all of his important equipment, such as life jackets and his first aid kit. It’s a strange detour that causes the quality of the story to dissipate with every page turn. Though the illustrations do at times convey the joyful bond of the family, overall they appear lackluster and washed-out, doing little to enhance the text.

Benign but bland. (Bilingual picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55885-812-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arté Público

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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