With this book, Nolen and Ford broaden the African-American picture-book palette in ways that are both delightful and...

IRENE'S WISH

A tale of wishes, family and magic of many kinds.

Irene, a young brown-skinned African-American girl with billowing locks, makes a wish that changes everything, especially for Papa, a gifted farmer. Irene loves her father but regrets that he’s so busy growing things that he rarely has time for her or other family members. After Irene “hope[s] and dream[s] and wishe[s] on all the stars that [sparkle] in the skies and on all the apples that ever dangled from any tree,” and Papa drinks the seeds she has accidentally left in his iced tea, a transformation takes place that ultimately gives her what she wants…sort of. Unfortunately, daily access to Papa comes with a price. Like Nolen’s Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm (illustrated by Mark Buehner, 1994), this mystical tale raises many questions for readers to ponder long after they close the book. For what, exactly, does Irene wish? How does she unwish it? Is Papa’s transformation literal or metaphorical? Who in this family learns the most important lesson from the events that unfold? Ford’s acrylic-and-oil illustrations bring readers into close contact with a demographic rarely portrayed in children’s literature: a middle-class African-American farming family. The lively images make the magic real.

With this book, Nolen and Ford broaden the African-American picture-book palette in ways that are both delightful and memorable. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-689-86300-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection.

DADDIES ARE AWESOME

Puppies celebrate the many ways their dads are awesome.

“Daddies are playful. / They swing you around. // You ride on their shoulders / or hang upside down.” The first spread pictures a scruffy pup, mouth clamped on its dad’s tail, hanging. The second features a long dachshund, his four pups using the large expanse of his back as a jungle gym or resting spot. The husky dad is labeled as daring, brave, and strong, while the hound takes his pup on adventures (digging and hiding under a bush). Other dog dads give kisses and tickles, tell bedtime stories and help count sheep (a stuffed toy), and help their pups grow (challenging them with stairs and carrying them when the going gets tough). Lovšin creatively interprets some of the text that applies well to kids but not so well to canines: dad and pup at each end of a long stick held in their mouths is the dog equivalent of holding hands. Though many dog breeds will be familiar, some are just mutts, though all are shown caring for and enjoying the company of their offspring. White backgrounds keep the focus on the dogs.

Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-452-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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