A good book to share with children eagerly awaiting their own siblings.

MAMA'S BELLY

A young girl eagerly awaits the arrival of her baby sister and has lots of questions for her parents.

From the physical to the existential, this girl asks them all over the course of what seems to be a single day: “When are you coming out?” “Does my sister know me already?” “Will my sister have freckles?” “Do I have to share my blanket?” “Will your lap ever come back?” “Will you have enough love for both of us?” All are answered satisfactorily, the last with a gentle, “More than all the stars in the sky.” Mama and Papa both encourage the girl to participate in getting ready for the baby and look back with her to the days when she herself was a baby. The brilliant jewel tones on mostly white backgrounds keep the focus on the family relationships and the girl’s shifting emotions. A not-always-subtle leaf motif links the illustrations, sometimes overtly inked in the backgrounds, at other times found in the pattern on a chair or Mama’s dress. Papa is a pale, bearded redhead; Mama is darker skinned with kinky black curls escaping her updo. Their daughter has pale skin, freckles, and wild brown curls. Unlike other new-baby books, the baby has not arrived by the last page, though the colophon does show a cozy family portrait of four.

A good book to share with children eagerly awaiting their own siblings. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2841-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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DONOVAN'S BIG DAY

It may be his mothers’ wedding day, but it’s Donovan’s big day in Newman’s (Heather Has Two Mommies, 1989, etc.) latest picture book about queer family life. Centered on the child’s experience and refreshingly eschewing reference to controversy, the book emerges as a celebration of not only Mommy’s and Mama’s mutual love but progress toward equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Readers, however, don't know immediately know why it is “a very BIG day” for Donovan or what the “very BIG job” is that he has to do. In his affectionate, humorous gouache paintings with digital finish, Dutton cleverly includes clues in the form of family pictures in an earlier spread set inside their home, and then a later spread shows Donovan in a suit and placing a “little white satin box that Aunt Jennifer gave him” into his pocket, hinting toward his role as ring bearer. But it’s not until the third-to-last spread that he stands with his parents and hands “one shiny gold ring to Mommy [and] one shiny gold ring to Mama.” He, of course, gets to kiss the brides on the last page, lending a happily-ever-after sensibility to the end of this story about a family's new beginning. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-332-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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