A winning choice for reading aloud in storytimes and a fine gift for a family with a new baby, with or without a dog.

CRYBABY

A black Labrador retriever is the only family member who can soothe a crying baby in this humorous, cumulative story that cries out to be read aloud with plenty of sound effects.

The story begins “in a quiet house on a quiet street,” but the stillness of the night is broken by a resounding “W-A-A-A-A!” set in large, red display type. The titular “crybaby” is clearly distressed and wailing loudly in her crib. The old family dog, Roy, comes a-running with the baby’s favorite stuffed toy, but his help is repeatedly rejected. Each family member tries a different tactic to help quiet the baby, from rocking to a bottle feeding to changing the baby’s diaper. Every action is given a sound-effect description, usually two words, with the rhyming phrases adding up in a funny reverse list that children will enjoy repeating or acting out: “P-e-e-u-u-w-w! / Peek-a-boo! / Hush, hush! / Rush, rush!” Faithful Roy the retriever keeps offering the baby’s stuffed lamb, and eventually the baby reaches down for her toy, solving her crying spell and allowing everyone to get to sleep just as the sun is rising. Loose watercolor illustrations with the look of collage effectively incorporate the sound-effect words within the page designs. Roy is portrayed as a gentle giant carrying the toy lamb in his mouth, and the depictions of family and neighbors add humor to the parade of potential helpers.

A winning choice for reading aloud in storytimes and a fine gift for a family with a new baby, with or without a dog. (Picture book. 3-8) 

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8974-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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