Loving thoughts, especially appropriate for bedtime.

LOVE YOU ALWAYS

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 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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