A good choice for the youngest dancers of all genders.

GOODNIGHT, LITTLE DANCER

A pair of siblings dances their way to sleep in this ballet-themed bedtime book.

The brown-skinned duo with curly hair has reached the end of their day. A narrator with a caregiver’s voice tells them, “It’s time for bed now, little dancer,” as they pose, wearing pajamas, in the softly lit living room. They make their way to a bedroom, still prancing and stretching, and say goodnight to their ballet props: ribbons and slippers. The lightly rhyming text tells the two to “practice steps inside your head. // Tomorrow you’ll be on the stage. // But now let’s tuck you into bed.” The children, one with long, voluminous hair (and, oddly, no scarf or wrap), the other with close-cropped hair, lie in twin beds side by side and dream of dancing together. This simple text moves swiftly, with one or two lines per spread, making a short, sweet goodnight story ideal for weary adults to help dance-obsessed young children settle into bed at the end of a long day. The amicable sibling relationship is a pleasant reprieve from feistier depictions. The soft colors are soothing and calming, as are the children’s enduring smiles. In companion title Goodnight, Little Superhero, pale-skinned siblings say goodnight to their capes and other gear. The text employs a similar pattern and voice; the colors are a bit brighter but still suitable for nighttime.

A good choice for the youngest dancers of all genders. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-31004-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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