It’s sweet, but it does not reflect the diverse realities of families and people in the world today.

LOVE YOU ALWAYS

The latest new-baby gift book tells how children are loved by their family members no matter what.

Gentle rhyming verses with a nice rhythm and repetition are great for reading aloud, though they can be a bit treacly: “You can giggle, cry, or pout, / but you are loved without a doubt, / upside-down and inside-out! / Mama loves you always.” These verses spend some more time on Mama and Daddy before devoting shorter space to Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie, Uncle, Cousin, and Family Friend, (leaving out siblings), covering all the bases but only for those families that fit the “traditional” nuclear-family mold; these days they are increasingly rare. In a move that may be frustrating to readers, many of Flint’s watercolor, crayon, ink, and digital illustrations, especially at the beginning, don’t show the adorable, pink-cheeked tots interacting with their family members. Instead, they are engaging in an activity, usually alone, in a vignette against a white background. This also serves to point up the lack of diversity in the characters; the vast majority of the children and adults pictured here are white; just two children are black, and one other has brown skin and black hair. (By and large clothing is also stereotyped blue and pink.)

It’s sweet, but it does not reflect the diverse realities of families and people in the world today. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8249-5686-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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DONOVAN'S BIG DAY

It may be his mothers’ wedding day, but it’s Donovan’s big day in Newman’s (Heather Has Two Mommies, 1989, etc.) latest picture book about queer family life. Centered on the child’s experience and refreshingly eschewing reference to controversy, the book emerges as a celebration of not only Mommy’s and Mama’s mutual love but progress toward equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Readers, however, don't know immediately know why it is “a very BIG day” for Donovan or what the “very BIG job” is that he has to do. In his affectionate, humorous gouache paintings with digital finish, Dutton cleverly includes clues in the form of family pictures in an earlier spread set inside their home, and then a later spread shows Donovan in a suit and placing a “little white satin box that Aunt Jennifer gave him” into his pocket, hinting toward his role as ring bearer. But it’s not until the third-to-last spread that he stands with his parents and hands “one shiny gold ring to Mommy [and] one shiny gold ring to Mama.” He, of course, gets to kiss the brides on the last page, lending a happily-ever-after sensibility to the end of this story about a family's new beginning. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-332-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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