Entertaining if a tad pat.

THE SAME BUT DIFFERENT TOO

Charming pairs of human and animal characters celebrate their similarities and differences.

Characters might look obviously dissimilar, like the brown-skinned child holding hands with the sharply dressed white dog—but they’re also alike in many ways, like the sand-colored cat and the sandy-haired white kid who both wear the same striped shirt and overalls. Alternating between contrasting pairs on solid-color backgrounds and comparable pairs in full-bleed scenes, cartoon illustrations reminiscent of Richard Scarry’s depict a mixed group of animals and humans exploring their varied identities and experiences with joy. Minimalist rhyme makes for an easy read-aloud and an amusing counterpoint to slapstick antics: “I am gentle. You are rough,” reads the text above a llama in a goofy hat dashing toward the page turn as a dark-haired white child holds onto its reins for dear life. Animal characters often serve as an evasion of responsibility for diverse human representation, but this book takes care to show a range of human skin tones as well as a wheelchair user. The art also offers just enough detail to charm observant readers, from an elephant double-fisting pastries to a bus-stop sign reading “BLEAK ST.” next to two characters standing in the rain. Somewhat oddly, the loose and otherwise nonchronological narrative ends with bedtime, although that does allow for a well-placed vertical turn to show all the animals stacked in a bunk bed.

Entertaining if a tad pat. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1201-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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?

Ideal for any community where children count.

COUNTING ON COMMUNITY

A difficult concept is simply and strikingly illustrated for the very youngest members of any community, with a counting exercise to boot.

From the opening invitation, “Living in community, / it's a lot of FUN! / Lets count the ways. / Lets start with ONE,” Nagaro shows an urban community that is multicultural, supportive, and happy—exactly like the neighborhoods that many families choose to live and raise their children in. Text on every other page rhymes unobtrusively. Unlike the vocabulary found in A Is for Activist (2013), this book’s is entirely age-appropriate (though some parents might not agree that picketing is a way to show “that we care”). In A Is for Activist, a cat was hidden on each page; this time, finding the duck is the game. Counting is almost peripheral to the message. On the page with “Seven bikes and scooters and helmets to share,” identifying toys in an artistic heap is confusing. There is only one helmet for five toys, unless you count the second helmet worn by the girl riding a scooter—but then there are eight items, not seven. Seven helmets and seven toys would have been clearer. That quibble aside, Nagara's graphic design skills are evident, with deep colors, interesting angles, and strong lines, in a mix of digital collage and ink.

Ideal for any community where children count. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60980-632-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more