With the same panache of their previous collaborations (Nora’s Room, 2001, etc.), the Harper sisters create a spunky tale about the woes and challenges of growing up. Harper tackles a subject familiar to every household engaged in child-rearing—the frequent occurrence of the word “don’t.” A child lists the deluge of restrictions she encounters in the course of daily life. From prohibitions about climbing bee-infested trees to sequestering reptiles in footwear, young Lizzy has had it with the that dreadful “don’t.” In retaliation, she provides her mother with her own list of “don’ts.” Lizzy’s proclamation is a blend of poignant and humorous dictums, including a plea to stay off the telephone a little more and a ban on a dreaded yellow dress. “Don’t always say my hair’s a mess. / Don’t say no when you could say yes. / Don’t, don’t, don’t!” Exhausted by their diatribe, the pair comes up with a list of things they wish each other would do. With keen insight and a comic touch, Harper spearheads the elemental truth of parenting; amid the squabbles and strife is the steadfast love a parent and child share. DuPont’s bold illustrations perfectly capture the energy of the tale. A blend of comic-strip layouts alternated with full-page spreads reflects the rhythms of the tale. With wry observations couched in perky rhymes and a lively tempo, Harper’s light-hearted tale delivers a sincere reminder to parents and children to treasure each other. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-623860-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002



Give this child’s-eye view of a day at the beach with an attentive father high marks for coziness: “When your ball blows across the sand and into the ocean and starts to drift away, your daddy could say, Didn’t I tell you not to play too close to the waves? But he doesn’t. He wades out into the cold water. And he brings your ball back to the beach and plays roll and catch with you.” Alley depicts a moppet and her relaxed-looking dad (to all appearances a single parent) in informally drawn beach and domestic settings: playing together, snuggling up on the sofa and finally hugging each other goodnight. The third-person voice is a bit distancing, but it makes the togetherness less treacly, and Dad’s mix of love and competence is less insulting, to parents and children both, than Douglas Wood’s What Dads Can’t Do (2000), illus by Doug Cushman. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 23, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-00361-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Close Quickview