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From the How To... series

A charming choice for transitioning families.

The team behind How to Babysit a Grandpa (2012), How to Raise a Mom (2018), and other “How-to” titles surrounding domestic relationships turns to yet another family dynamic: the birth of a new baby.

A brown-skinned mom, a White dad, and their biracial child (who could either be a boy or girl) first prepare for and then welcome a new baby (who could also be a boy or girl). A White grandmother and a brown-skinned grandfather devotedly assist. Reagan’s upbeat, second-person narrative addresses young readers directly, conveying realistic expectations and advice for adapting to a newborn joining the clan. For example, the text offers tips on how to feel included in a shifting family paradigm: “If you need an extra hug, just ask.” The real core of the story, however, is showing children their special role as an older sibling and giving them a sense of agency. For instance, Reagan assures readers that although friends and family will love to visit the new baby, “You’re the expert.” That means warning visitors that "the baby squeezes pinkies very tightly" and reminding them not to feed the infant party food. Caregivers with little ones will appreciate the verisimilitude of Wildish’s cartoony digital illustrations, which show a messy but welcoming kitchen and disorderly but delightful playtime scenes. The illustrations also include fun details throughout, like the family cat and her new kittens, that complement the larger story arc. Background characters display some racial diversity. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A charming choice for transitioning families. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43060-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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