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


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.


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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A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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