A sweet, well-paced tale about a common anxiety.

DARCY'S FIRST SLEEPOVER

Darcy loves her bedtime routine.

Every night, she brushes her teeth with strawberry toothpaste right after she gets into her polka dot pajamas. Then her father reads her a picture book while she snuggles with Little Cat, her favorite animal and the hero of her favorite bedtime story. Finally, she falls asleep to the comforting sound of her father doing the dishes. When Darcy and her dad go to cousin Kayla’s house, the two girls have so much fun that Kayla asks if Darcy can sleep over. Darcy says yes, but it’s her first time sleeping away from home, and everything is just a little bit different. The nightgown she borrows from Kayla is scratchy, and the toothpaste is peppermint. The house is full of strange, new sounds. In this strange new place, will she ever be able to fall asleep? This gentle story is full of specific details that are both lyrical and comforting in their familiarity. Darcy’s conflicting feelings about her first sleepover feel authentic and are recognizable. In the end, Darcy is the one who solves her own problem, thereby modeling actions that children can take to soothe themselves. The illustrations use a cool palette and smudged lines that make the text feel intimate and cozy. Darcy, her dad, and her aunt all have brown skin and black hair; Kayla has pale skin and red hair.

A sweet, well-paced tale about a common anxiety. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-75590-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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