A refreshing first-birthday book, with subtleties for adult readers and details for little ones.

READ REVIEW

BABY DAY

It’s a first birthday celebration for baby, and lots of baby friends join in the festivities.

The book opens on baby waiting expectantly to be lifted from the crib and progresses through all of the birthday fun, showing friends arriving, cake, and ice cream before closing with bathtime, snuggles, and sleep. Godwin and Bell’s text focuses on the birthday baby and friends, and the story is told almost entirely through descriptions of the babies and Blackwood’s illustrations of them. “Lazy baby” describes a sleeping friend, “brave baby” goes down the slide head first, and “sad baby” has just lost dessert to the dog. No pronouns are ever used to describe the babies, and while some wear dresses or tutus, there is no specific gender attached to any particular illustration—a nice touch, whether intentional or not. Some tots are browner than others (the protagonist presents white), and a pair of twins are cued as black via their hairstyles. Blackwood’s illustrations nevertheless are lovely, with her customary delicately energetic line and a palette of mostly primary red, yellow, and blue. Adult readers will appreciate the two-page spread that so accurately depicts what it’s like trying to take a photo of a group of wiggly little ones. Overall, this is a nice approach to the classic first-birthday book, offering a sense of play and nuance in both the brief text and the lovely illustrations.

A refreshing first-birthday book, with subtleties for adult readers and details for little ones. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7034-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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