Visually sparkling—but with a text that doesn’t always suit the audience.

MR. PUMPKIN'S TEA PARTY

A rhyming Halloween seek-and-find book gives readers some practice counting from one to 13 (natch).

“There’s a party at Mr. Pumpkin’s tonight, / a banquet with friends in autumn twilight. / And at this soirée we’ll see and we’ll find / ghoulish delights of every kind.” The host himself contributes a beautifully decorated cake, and each of the seven guests brings increasing numbers of treats to the table, from Sir Bones’ two jugs of cider to Baron Laguna’s 12 balloons. Bats, cups of tea, and singing frogs round out the counting, which ends with the clock striking 13 and the end of the party. Barker’s illustrations are a delight, the spooky details softened by a cartoonish treatment and soft color palette; nothing here is threatening or too scary. But the text doesn’t live up to the artwork. The clever character names are sure to go over the heads of readers still interested in finding and counting items in the pictures, and scansion and meaning sometimes take a back seat to the rhythm and rhyme. As a result, the word order can be confusing for young children: “Follow six lamps— / to the house they will lead.”

Visually sparkling—but with a text that doesn’t always suit the audience. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-936669-77-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby.

BABY GOES TO MARKET

Baby is so charming that various vendors in this West African market gift him all sorts of yummies.

Baby rides on Mama’s back, held snug by a bright cloth wrap. Mama navigates the busy, colorful outdoor market, her woven basket balanced on her head. The text unrolls rhythmically in Atinuke’s storyteller’s voice: “Market is very crowded. Baby is very curious. Baby is so curious that Mrs. Ade, the banana seller, gives Baby six bananas.” Baby eats one and puts the remaining bananas in Mama’s basket. All the while Mama shops, unbeknownst to her, vendors continue to respond to Baby’s transparent delight with five oranges, four “sugary chin-chin biscuits,” three “roasted sweet corn,” and two pieces of coconut. With each delicacy given, Baby eats one and puts the rest in the basket. When Mama sees all the extra foodstuffs she didn’t buy, she’s concerned, until the vendors reassure her: “We gave those things to Baby!” In her debut picture book, Brooksbank offers bright, bustling tableaux of shoppers, vendors, and goods. The smiling, all-black cast sort through myriad wares, while the text keeps up its rhythm, introducing both typical items bought in a West African market and a gentle lesson in arithmetic as Baby alternately snacks on and stashes his gifts.

Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9570-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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