Since the shelves are crowded with titles in the preparing-for-the-new-baby genre, choose this only if there is room for one...

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JUST PERFECT

Searching for a new family member, a little boy considers a number of animal choices before finding something "just perfect."

“Mommy, Daddy and I made three, but we thought we might like four.” Cuddled between his mother and father on the porch swing, this observant child narrates the story of finding an addition to the family. With a spare storyline and rich, warm illustrations, Marinsky parades through a number of ill-fitting animal choices. The dog sheds too much. Walking the turtle takes too long. The litany of unsatisfactory animals quickly veers into the absurd with a dolphin swimming in the living room and the kitchen being destroyed by an octopus. The young boy, found in every picture, personally witnesses the reason each animal is not selected. At last, the perfect addition is found, in the person of a baby sibling the little boy addresses directly. The combination of text and image may confuse, as it slips in and out of the surreal. Overall, the whole book has a calm tone, and there is a gentle kindness in the older brother that appeals; in the last picture, he reads an animal book to the new baby.

Since the shelves are crowded with titles in the preparing-for-the-new-baby genre, choose this only if there is room for one with its sophisticated tone in both voice and image. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56792-428-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents.

TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU

A poetic ode to women who became mothers despite the challenges they faced.

Whether navigating the roughest seas, crossing the hottest deserts, or pushing through painful brambles, the mothers in this book know their long, hard journeys were worth the effort. There might have been failure and doubt, but now that it’s all over, they know they’d “do it all over again. For you.” First-person narration expresses in metaphor the extraordinary lengths some mothers will go to achieve their dream of holding a child in their arms. Sentimental and flowery, the text is broad enough to apply to the journeys of many mothers—even though the text is gender neutral, the illustrations clearly center the mother’s experience. At times another figure, often male-presenting, is shown alongside a mother. Soft, jewel-toned illustrations peppered with textures depict families with a variety of skin tones and hair colors/textures. The assortment of mothers shown demonstrates the universality of the message, but it also contributes to the absence of a strong visual throughline. In the concluding author’s note, Serhant shares her personal struggle to conceive her child, which included fertility treatments and IVF. Ultimately, although the sentiment is lovely, the message is too abstract to be understood by children and will be better received and appreciated by parents.

Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17388-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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