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The team that listed 39 Uses for a Friend (not reviewed) finds fewer uses for mothers, but at least as inventive ones. The text consists entirely of one- or two-word numbered descriptors of mom activities, and the waggish pictures illustrate these with verve and humor. The range, which all moms and mom-like products will recognize, include “chauffeur,” “hairstylist,” “personal shopper,” and “answering service.” The pictures, created in “Flashe paint and ink on bristol board,” feature sturdy figures with spindly arms, round heads, inventively patterned clothing, and squiggly facial features on a white background. This allows the illustrator free reign: when a Mom is #10, “encyclopedia,” she lectures to her son with a butterfly alight on her finger and a broad-brimmed hat on her head, a few flowers suggesting the outdoors. Mom as #27, “bank,” has a mouth pressed into a straight and long-suffering line; Mom as #29, “hand holder,” sports a long braid, a polka-dot hat, and an accomplished air as she and daughter view their snowman. Perhaps a favorite is #12, “beach chair,” where Mom under an umbrella reads her magazine while her kid is neatly pillowed, stretched out on her lap and torso. Doughty’s minimal art allows for moms and offspring of many colors and hairstyles, including a suggestion of parents who may not always be the same hue as their children: Mom as pitcher, catcher, and retriever, numbers 21 through 23 (even losing her baseball cap in the process) is particularly apt and adept. Funny and oddly tender, moms and kids alike should enjoy continuing the list. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-23862-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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Give this child’s-eye view of a day at the beach with an attentive father high marks for coziness: “When your ball blows across the sand and into the ocean and starts to drift away, your daddy could say, Didn’t I tell you not to play too close to the waves? But he doesn’t. He wades out into the cold water. And he brings your ball back to the beach and plays roll and catch with you.” Alley depicts a moppet and her relaxed-looking dad (to all appearances a single parent) in informally drawn beach and domestic settings: playing together, snuggling up on the sofa and finally hugging each other goodnight. The third-person voice is a bit distancing, but it makes the togetherness less treacly, and Dad’s mix of love and competence is less insulting, to parents and children both, than Douglas Wood’s What Dads Can’t Do (2000), illus by Doug Cushman. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 23, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-00361-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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