A slight effort with minimal cultural references.

SALSA LULLABY

It’s bedtime, and Baby isn’t having it. What’s a parent to do?

No problem—just dial up some hip-swaying, foot-moving salsa music! In the kitchen, Mami kicks up her heels with the baby bottle while Papi dances his giggling infant across the living room floor. The exuberant family dog joins in the fun as Papi spins Mami around. Finally, the baby cuddles in Mami’s arms as the dance slows. The salsa lullaby soothes as the baby’s parents tuck their tot in with a stuffed toy. While both child and doggy friend drift off to sleep, they continue following the salsa beat in their dreams. Unfortunately, Arena’s mostly English four-line verses fail to conjure salsa’s infectious beat and bobble a bit in one stanza: “Mami glides across the floor. / Papi sets the pace. / Baby sings la la la, / makes a silly face.” There are only seven Spanish words (not counting “Mami” or “Papi”) in the entire book—one per each two-line, nonrhyming refrain. “Baila, baby, baila. / Dance, dance, dance.” The phrase “Buenas noches” is paired with “Good night!” outside the preceding pattern and rhyme. Meza’s characters present as a loving Latinx family but appear to be dancing swing rather than salsa. A retro boombox is the source of the swirling musical notes and floral designs that also fail to evoke salsa’s spicy tempo. Maurie J. Manning’s Kitchen Dance (2008) is a more authentic choice.

A slight effort with minimal cultural references. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-57973-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration.

I LOVE DADDY EVERY DAY

Children point out the things they love about their fathers.

“Daddy is always kind. He gives us support and shelter when things go wrong.” A child with a skinned knee (and downed ice cream cone) gets a bandage and loving pat from Daddy (no shelter is visible, but the child’s concerned sibling sweetly extends their own cone). Daddy’s a storyteller, a magician, supportive, loyal, silly, patient, and he knows everything. A die-cut hole pierces most pages, positioned so that the increasingly smaller holes to come can be seen through it; what it represents in each scene varies, and it does so with also-variable success. The bland, nonrhyming, inconsistent text does little to attract or keep attention, though the die cuts might (until they fall victim to curious fingers). The text also confusingly mixes first-person singular and plural, sometimes on the same page: “Daddy is like a gardener. He lovingly cares for us and watches us grow. I’m his pride and joy!” Even as the text mixes number the illustrations mix metaphors. This particular gardener daddy is pictured shampooing a child during bathtime. Más’ cartoon illustrations are sweet if murkily interpretive, affection clearly conveyed. Troublingly, though, each father and his child(ren) seem to share the same racial presentation and hair color (sometimes even hairstyle!), shutting out many different family constellations. Más does, however, portray several disabilities: children and adults wearing glasses, a child with a cochlear implant, and another using a wheelchair.

Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12305-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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