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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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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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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