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LOVE YOU ALWAYS

Loving thoughts, especially appropriate for bedtime.

Many books have similar titles and highlight the parent-child bond, but this gently flowing rhyme by Stickley elicits new warm, snuggly feelings.

Lush, boldly colored illustrations capture Mommy hedgehog and her son, Hedgie, as they amble through the fall woods. When Hedgie notes the turn of seasons, she explains: “ ‘Everything is changing,’ Mommy said. ‘It’s nature’s way. / But change makes nature lovelier with every passing day.’ ” Hedgie’s questions continue. “Mommy… / would you love me MORE…if I change?” Hedgie repeats his question as they encounter other mother-child pairs (squirrels, dragonflies, frogs, and rabbits), and, each time, Mommy explains that she could not love him more. At the end of the walk, Mommy and Hedgie return to their burrow and Hedgie asks the million-dollar question. “But, Mommy…will love always last forever, / even if I change just like the seasons or the weather?” She reassures him: “ALWAYS.” The final couplet ties the bow on it: “ ‘Always,’ whispered Hedgie / as he curled up in his bed. / ‘Imagine that,’ he murmured. ‘Just imagine,’ Mommy said.” All characters are simply and realistically drawn animals but with anthropomorphic facial expressions and body language. The cartoon landscape they dwell in is a benign one, round-lobed oak leaves, flowing water, and other organic shapes exuding comfort.

Loving thoughts, especially appropriate for bedtime. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12400-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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WITH ALL MY HEART

Sweet.

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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