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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more