While thar be precious little piracy visible in this, its feminist themes are strong.

HOW TO BE A PIRATE

Feminism for the piratically inclined.

Fitzgerald and Barrager give the old chestnut of a girl who’s turned away from a boys’ fort due to her gender alone a piratical twist. After CeCe’s initial disappointment, she vows to get advice from the only true pirate she knows: her grandfather. Game to give his granddaughter a 101 in how to be the best possible scurvy dog, he uses each of his tattoos to extol a virtue such as bravery or speed. As in Alison McGhee and Eliza Wheeler’s Tell Me a Tattoo Story (2016), body art becomes the inspiration for any number of adventures and aphorisms, ending with the most important lesson: love. Readers may note that few of these flights of fancy have much to do with pirates specifically. Nevertheless, an emboldened CeCe returns to the boys and successfully owns her piratude. The ending is more than a bit optimistic, as CeCe gains admission simply by redeclaring intentions with a smidgen more chutzpah. Would that misogyny always rolled over so easily. Happily, Fitzgerald’s tale is accompanied by the rollicking vibrancy of Barrager’s art. Reality pales (literally) in the face of the imagination, with a clever tonal shift to a brighter, more saturated palette indicating CeCe’s determination. CeCe and Grandpa both present white; the boys who initially snub her display a range of skin colors and hair textures.

While thar be precious little piracy visible in this, its feminist themes are strong. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68119-778-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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A spot-on description of a child’s babysitter jitters and comforting discussion should calm everyone’s fears.

LLAMA LLAMA MEETS THE BABYSITTER

Will it be your child’s first time with a nonfamily babysitter? Get great advice from Mama Llama.

When Mama Llama must go out one evening and Gramma Llama can’t come instead, Llama Llama worries about who the babysitter will be. Will she be fun? Will she read the books he likes and play games? At first, Llama Llama feels sad, but then he gets mad, so mad his “brain starts to fizz.” Luckily, the doorbell rings, and the babysitter arrives. It’s skunk Molly, whom Llama knows from the ice cream shop and who just happens to have a bag of ice cream sundae samples. When it’s clear the evening is off to a great start, Mama Llama leaves, and Llama Llama and Molly begin a fun-filled time. Llama Llama’s initial emotional reactions to having a babysitter will ring true with children, as will Mama Llama’s explanations as she acknowledges two big concerns head-on. First, even though a babysitter is not the same as having family, Mama Llama clearly states the babysitter “will take good care of you.” To the second—“And what if you do not come back?!”—Mama immediately reassures Llama Llama that she will, reinforcing her commitment when she returns home. The text is done in rhyming couplets, but many near rhymes and an inconsistent meter may hinder reading aloud without practice. As has become expected after Dewdney’s passing, Morrow’s paintings nicely emulate the late author’s style. Endpapers feature before-and-after pictures of yummy sundae ingredients. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19.6% of actual size.)

A spot-on description of a child’s babysitter jitters and comforting discussion should calm everyone’s fears. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35033-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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