I AM ME

In a variation on the familiar phrase “You look just like . . . , ” Kuskin’s (The Sky Is Always in the Sky, 1998, etc.) heroine has her aunt Grace’s smile, her grandma’s eyebrows, and her father’s feet, except for her little toe, which is a lot more like Aunt Jen’s. Her family compares each part of her anatomy to someone else. After all the similarities are noted, the feisty girl stands up and proudly proclaims that although she may look like others, she is “no one else but me.” The text is bouncy and rhythmic and lends itself to reading aloud. Wolcott’s (Dog Days: Rhymes Around the Year, not reviewed) bold gouache and watercolor illustrations show the little girl’s extended family having fun at the beach. Grandmother, parents, aunts, and their dogs enjoy the day swimming, playing, bicycling, sunbathing, and basking in the warm, sunny weather. The endpapers extend the action by showing the family driving to the beach at the beginning of the book and going home in darkness at the end. The pages are drenched with color, filled with movement, and if the readers look carefully, they can pick out the resemblances, too. An upbeat, happy, colorful little story with a lesson for grown-ups. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-81473-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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THE POUT-POUT FISH

The pout-pout fish, painted a suitable blue, is so named for his perpetual gloom: “I’m a pout-pout fish / With a pout-pout face, / So I spread the dreary-wearies / All over the place.” When a jellyfish complains about his “daily scaly scowl,” the glum fish agrees, but says his mood isn’t up to him. A squid, dubbing the fish “a kaleidoscope of mope,” receives the same defeatist answer, as do other sea creatures. Up to this point, the story is refreshing in that readers will no doubt recognize the pout-pout fish in their own lives, and in many cases, there’s just no cheering these people up. But the plot takes a rather unpalatable turn when a shimmery girl fish kisses the gloomster right on his pouty mouth. With that kiss, he transforms into the “kiss-kiss fish” and swims around “spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place,” meaning that he starts to smooch every creature in sight. (Don’t try this at school, kids, you’ll get suspended!) Still, there’s plenty of charm here, both in the playful language (“hulky-bulky sulking!”) and in the winning artwork—Hanna’s cartoonish undersea world swims with hilarious bug-eyed creatures that ooze personality. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-36096-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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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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