Belongs among the gifts given at every baby shower; three squeezes should be part of every caregiver’s toolkit.

THREE SQUEEZES

A father’s love, epitomized by the titular gesture, lasts a lifetime.

The first two spreads set up a family tradition shared between father and son, both depicted with pale skin and straight, brown hair: “When you could neither talk nor stand, / life’s hourglass still filled with sand, // I gently held your tiny hand /and gave it three soft squeezes.” Subsequent spreads gradually age the child as he faces common life experiences, three squeezes always communicating his father’s comforting presence: a nightmare, a broken leg, a missed catch, a quarrel between the pair, the death of a pet, graduation. The boy becomes a father himself. On a sunset-lit forest path, he pushes his father in a wheelchair. “The day may come, you understand, / when I can neither talk nor stand, / and if it does, please take my hand / and give it three soft squeezes.” The final page shows the three generations together, the son squeezing the old man’s hand while the text spells out that three squeezes mean “I love you.” Sheban’s illustrations are the perfect complement, playing up the relationship and using color to enhance emotions. While inevitably begging comparison with Love You Forever, this comes out much the better with its portrayal of the normal progression of aging, though it requires just as many tissues.

Belongs among the gifts given at every baby shower; three squeezes should be part of every caregiver’s toolkit. (Picture book. 3-8, adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-31345-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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