Share as a Father’s Day story or when the weather turns warm, but be ready for treehouse blueprints.

READ REVIEW

AUDREY'S TREE HOUSE

A little girl who declares that her dad’s house is too small for her spurs an epic building project.

Hughes uses dialogue between daughter and dad to move the plot forward, Dad suggesting the chicken coop, the garage, and even a shed, and Audrey turning them all down. Then Audrey points to a tall tree in their yard, and good-natured Dad gets to work. An elaborate twisting staircase with a rail for sliding down is built. Next a bathtub for snorkeling is hoisted up into the treetop. Her industrious father supplies each of Audrey’s seemingly endless requests for a bed, a stove, and chairs. When all seems complete, Dad makes his way toward his house—and Audrey begins to have second thoughts about staying alone in her new treehouse. Luckily Dad, as always, responds with the perfect answer of where she can stay always, regardless of how big she is. Bentley’s watercolor-and-pencil illustrations portray Audrey with curly red hair and lots of spunk. Readers will identify with her desire to have everything perfect in her new play house and her courage for independence but also will relate to her need for an ultimate place where she belongs.

Share as a Father’s Day story or when the weather turns warm, but be ready for treehouse blueprints. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-81327-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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