A fine title to add, not swap, to the new-baby shelf.

THE BABY SWAP

Inspired by her mother’s shopping trip to exchange a hat, Caroline Crocodile tries to swap her baby brother, only to discover that he’s just right, after all.

Jealousy is the culprit in Caroline’s dissatisfaction with her new sibling. She seethes as Mama Crocodile enthuses, “He is as green as a grub, and his eyes are as yellow as egg yolks.” Matters worsen as Mama continues to lavish praise on her hatchling, and when Caroline is left in charge while Mama pops into the millinery, she spies “The Baby Shop.” Pictures reveal the store as one that sells baby clothing, furniture and accoutrements, but Caroline misinterprets its sales mission and heads inside to swap her drooling baby brother. A compassionate—and extremely resourceful—sales-goat somehow comes up with a series of other babies (a panda cub, twin tigers, a baby giraffe, a piglet and even an elephant’s child), but each is somehow problematic. Ormerod and Joyner infuse humor into the mishaps with each baby, which helps mitigate the hole in the story’s logic: Just where do these trial babies come from? Caroline ultimately reunites with her “just right” baby brother and happily accepts her returning mother’s oblivious praise. Joyner’s comic illustrations add much to the story’s success with their expressive, detailed and engaging approach.

A fine title to add, not swap, to the new-baby shelf. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1914-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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