No strife necessary: Readers will be content just to have met Bubbe and Naomi.

BUBBE'S BELATED BAT MITZVAH

Is serenity a narrative problem?

Bubbe can’t remember how many kippot she’s made. She’s 95, and she’s crocheted a skullcap for every bar and bat mitzvah and wedding in her family. Her great-granddaughter Naomi thinks it’s time for Bubbe to have a bat mitzvah ceremony of her own. In some books, this would be a source of tension. Bubbe might struggle with the religious texts. She might argue with people who think a religious service should be led by a man. But this is a book with no conflict. Bubbe decides to learn Hebrew, and she does. Some readers might prefer a book with less harmony and tranquility, and less sedate pacing. But it seems uncharitable, somehow, to wish any struggle or pain on Naomi and her Bubbe, whose account of her descendants’ coming-of-age ceremonies is something of a thumbnail history of the evolution of the role of women in Judaism. Cis’ illustrations are so expressive that Bubbe’s eyes, captured in a few strokes of paint, instantly make her seem both wise and kind. On the day of the bat mitzvah, all the family members are wearing matching kippot, crocheted by Naomi. This is the exact opposite of conflict, and if it’s a little dull, it’s dull in the most satisfying way possible.

No strife necessary: Readers will be content just to have met Bubbe and Naomi. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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