A warm, sweet, beautifully illustrated book that’s great for reading aloud, although it leaves dads out of the parenting...

READ REVIEW

HAPPY MAMAS

This illustrated children’s book celebrates the joy of mothers taking care of babies across the animal kingdom.

“What makes a Mama happy?” That’s the central question that Pelley (Raj the Bookstore Tiger, 2012, etc.) asks in her latest book, which follows the course of a day: what makes a mother happy “at the dawn of day,” “as the sun begins to climb,” “as clouds shuffle by,” “as twilight glimmers,” and “at hush of night”? And finally, what makes her happiest, overall? The answer, for mothers both human and animal (including a panda, a seal, a kangaroo, an elephant, a monkey, a penguin, and an eagle), is always related to what makes their babies happy—a full stomach, learning about the world, playing, building independence, singing, and, above all else, being loved. Each section ends with a comfortable formula that sums things up: for example, “That’s a—my baby’s belly’s full kind of Happy Mama,” or “That’s a—see my baby go kind of Happy Mama.” The tone is sweet and whimsical, with a lot of alliteration and sometimes rhyme. Seals, for instance, go “Diving deep for a fishy feast…then follow with a flip flap floppy honk of delight!”; a monkey and her baby “Dip and dangle, all a tangle, in a topsy-turvy, fun fandango.” This verbal playfulness makes this book an excellent choice for reading aloud, and Harper (The Kissing Hand, 1996, etc.) offers beautiful illustrations with plenty of absorbing detail. Her soft color washes depict mother-baby play and affection with great charm, and Harper does a wonderful job of capturing the diversity of nature and people and, in particular, the adorability of babies of all kinds. But the book’s view of child care is female-only: an older sister cares for her baby brother at one point, but fathers and brothers are left out of the book entirely. This may be accurate for some animal families, but among humans, mamas often aren’t the only ones who care for their children in the ways depicted here.

A warm, sweet, beautifully illustrated book that’s great for reading aloud, although it leaves dads out of the parenting equation.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58760-160-6

Page Count: 30

Publisher: CWLA Press

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2017

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

THERE'S A MONSTER IN YOUR BOOK

From the There’s a…in Your Book series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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