A tender story that fails to realize its full potential.

READ REVIEW

THE HAIRDO THAT GOT AWAY

When Dad leaves, a young child is left to deal with roiling emotions and a headful of overgrown, tangled hair.

The story is told from the point of view of an unnamed child with an ambiguous gender presentation who’s used to going regularly with Dad to the barbershop for a haircut. One day, the child’s father leaves. The child’s blond hair starts growing out of control. The longer Dad is gone, the longer the child’s hair grows, until teacher Miss Clarke can’t recognize her student and Mom, hidden under her own hair, can’t hear her child. Young readers will recognize the feeling of tangled, unmanageable emotions represented by the child’s hair. Yet the effect of this metaphor is limited by the author’s seeming unwillingness to commit to details and to develop the metaphor fully. Did the parents go through a separation, then reconcile? Was the father in a psychiatric hospital? The lack of specificity means that adults should be cautious when choosing this book for a struggling child. It could either be a tool to spark discussion and self-reflection or a vehicle of false hope that a parent will return and troubles will disappear. Lumbers’ illustrations are lively and effective when portraying the child in the wild mop, adding detail to the narrative, though the adults seem static in comparison. Child, parents, and teacher all present white; classmates are diverse.

A tender story that fails to realize its full potential. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7841-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more