Running away never looked so good.

UNDER THE LILACS

A declaration to run away from home leads to an awfully cozy escape.

Kate’s sister, Hannah, has shut the door on Kate’s toe, and Mom is giving flute lessons to neighborhood kids. What more reason would one need to run away? So, determined, Kate gathers duct tape and cardboard and proceeds to construct a little home under the lilacs in the neighbor’s yard. And because Mango the cat might miss her sister and her mother, she’ll build them additional rooms as well. Soon enough Hannah, Mom, and even one of Mom’s flute students show up on Kate’s cardboard doorstep, happy to live under the lilacs, “At least for a little while.” Goodale keeps the text short and sweet from the initial line, “Sometimes I want to run away,” to the penultimate declarative sentence, “Yes, I think I could stay here, under the lilacs.” And some canny young readers may well pierce the veil around Kate’s protestations that it is Mango who will be missing Hannah and Mom. The illustrations combine print, drawing, and digital techniques, making for a truly attractive mélange that evinces early spring days, green fields, and blue skies swept with clouds. After reading this book, who wouldn’t want to try their own hand at a little independence? Kate, Hannah, and Mom have pale skin and straight, dark hair; Mom’s flute student has brown skin and puffy brown hair.

Running away never looked so good. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-15393-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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A spot-on description of a child’s babysitter jitters and comforting discussion should calm everyone’s fears.

LLAMA LLAMA MEETS THE BABYSITTER

Will it be your child’s first time with a nonfamily babysitter? Get great advice from Mama Llama.

When Mama Llama must go out one evening and Gramma Llama can’t come instead, Llama Llama worries about who the babysitter will be. Will she be fun? Will she read the books he likes and play games? At first, Llama Llama feels sad, but then he gets mad, so mad his “brain starts to fizz.” Luckily, the doorbell rings, and the babysitter arrives. It’s skunk Molly, whom Llama knows from the ice cream shop and who just happens to have a bag of ice cream sundae samples. When it’s clear the evening is off to a great start, Mama Llama leaves, and Llama Llama and Molly begin a fun-filled time. Llama Llama’s initial emotional reactions to having a babysitter will ring true with children, as will Mama Llama’s explanations as she acknowledges two big concerns head-on. First, even though a babysitter is not the same as having family, Mama Llama clearly states the babysitter “will take good care of you.” To the second—“And what if you do not come back?!”—Mama immediately reassures Llama Llama that she will, reinforcing her commitment when she returns home. The text is done in rhyming couplets, but many near rhymes and an inconsistent meter may hinder reading aloud without practice. As has become expected after Dewdney’s passing, Morrow’s paintings nicely emulate the late author’s style. Endpapers feature before-and-after pictures of yummy sundae ingredients. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19.6% of actual size.)

A spot-on description of a child’s babysitter jitters and comforting discussion should calm everyone’s fears. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35033-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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