Both amusing and endearing; caregivers and close acquaintances of newborns will feel seen—and heard.

BABY CLOWN

At the Dingling Circus, “a STAR is born”—but how can he dazzle the audience when he won’t stop crying?

In the grand tradition of Marla Frazee’s The Boss Baby (2010), Kate Beaton’s King Baby (2016), and others, a pair of overwhelmed new parents navigate their infant’s attempts to communicate. Boffo and Frieda Clown feed and burp Baby Clown, change his diaper, juggle for him, and even ask their fellow circus performers to entertain him in hopes of ending his wailing. Cordell’s characteristically loose ink-and-watercolor illustrations brilliantly evoke Quentin Blake’s Clown (1996), with large oval eyeballs and expressive mouths and hands. The clown parents’ dramatic features are further exaggerated as they experience dismay, frustration, and abject despair (in one spread, Frieda lies on the floor in the fetal position while Boffo, on his knees, begs Baby Clown to be quiet). All efforts to cheer the tot fail, but the show must go on: The sold-out crowd (depicted in shades of sepia) is eager to see Baby Clown—and their eagerness results in an unexpected solution! The clowns’ makeup is paper-white, and Baby Clown has a shock of brown hair and light-colored hands; “big boss” Mr. Dingling is the only character with distinctly brown skin.

Both amusing and endearing; caregivers and close acquaintances of newborns will feel seen—and heard. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9743-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

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
more