A perfect addition to the rainy-day bookshelf, where joy can be found indoors, knowing the sun will shine again.

SUNNY-SIDE UP

A rainy day dashes a young child’s plans, but with dad’s help, delight can be found in playing indoors.

The warm glow of morning greets a happy child, who proudly sits at the breakfast table. But when a storm is revealed, a tantrum ensues. Daddy soothes ruffled feathers and fears, encouraging the tot to play inside. Soon, cozy pillow nests and a building-block city bloom; under the table, a clubhouse flourishes as the pale-complexioned child serves treats to a couple of stuffies. When Mommy comes home, the rain has stopped, and the two play at the park before sitting down for a family dinner of spaghetti and ice cream. Traditional gender roles are reversed, with the father as the primary caregiver, cooking meals, keeping the schedule, and gently persuading an obstinate child to nap. First-person, rhyming text perfectly captures a young child’s desire for independence and control over choices: “I close my eyes, / and dream about my sunny day. / Where I found fun inside when it was gray.” The illustrations, done in a gentle, welcoming pastel palette, feature simple characters, but the interplay of pattern and color creates sophisticated images. The child’s expressive energy under a mop of straight-brown hair is perfectly captured in jumping, stomping, running, and playing; and Woodcock skillfully layers cooler colors to convey the weather and emotional state of the child. Together the author and artist create an environment full of warmth and love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A perfect addition to the rainy-day bookshelf, where joy can be found indoors, knowing the sun will shine again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-257307-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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