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SNOW SISTERS!

A nice addition to sibling shelves that shows that fun can also be had apart.

Two sisters who could not be more unalike in personality enjoy a snowy day in different ways.

Except for the final page, Kokias’ clever text reads the same backward and forward, following the two white girls through their day. The redheaded sister is thrilled with the snow outside and rushes to put on outdoor gear. Meanwhile, the brunette settles in to read with hot cocoa and a blanket. While the redhead throws snowballs and tracks animals, her sister bakes, makes paper snowflakes, and engages in pretend play. But then: “Cold. Wet. Brrr.” The two sisters cross paths in the center of the book as they switch places and activities, and with the redhead inside, an obvious difference between the two becomes even clearer: the brunette is neat, the redhead messy. The focus remains on the sisters and their fun, though their redheaded father and brunette mother do appear in the baking scenes in the kitchen. The softly colored gouache-and-watercolor illustrations are chock-full of ideas for fun on a snowy day, whether inside or outside. The final page shows the two at last enjoying time together as “Snow sisters!” The girls’ expressions are a bit one-note, and children may find it easier to identify with the exuberant redhead than the nearly flawless brunette.

A nice addition to sibling shelves that shows that fun can also be had apart. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-93883-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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