Expect this lovely gift for new parents to live by the rocking chair, helping families discover their own “babymoons.”...

BABYMOON

Two new parents spend the first days after baby’s arrival on their “babymoon.”

The opening spread draws the eye from the verso, on which is pictured a rickety home with interesting details, to the tone-setting lines of text on the recto: “The house is hushed. The lights are low. / We’re basking in a newborn glow.” Rhyming couplets spur the page turns, celebrating various aspects of life with a tender newborn. On “a sweet, secluded afternoon,” the lighter-skinned father lies sleeping with the swaddled baby. The brown-skinned mother, framed by long, puffy hair, washes baby, with “Soothing water and warm embrace / of tentative and awkward grace.” Then they are “reassuring, building trust” in a beautiful breastfeeding scene. Martinez-Neal’s distinctive illustrations feature soft, hazy lines that convey a dreamlike quality. The muted colors of the clothing and surroundings, along with the ample use of white space, let the family’s skin tones shine with a reddish glow that can be interpreted as a blush of happiness. More an encouragement to new parents to savor the moment than a book for babies, this heartfelt offering successfully captures the feelings one wants to remember about this precious time (and leaves out the not-so-pleasant moments).

Expect this lovely gift for new parents to live by the rocking chair, helping families discover their own “babymoons.” (Picture book. 6 mos.-3, adult)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8852-3

Page Count: 33

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 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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