A sweet story for country-mouse readers.

NANA IN THE CITY

A child learns to appreciate Nana’s urban environs.

Nana has a new apartment in the city, and her grandchild is excited but nervous about visiting. “I love my nana, / but I don’t love the city,” she tells readers. Accompanying art depicts how the city seems “busy” and “loud” and “filled with scary things.” Illustrating the last point, the picture shows the child small and scared against a graffitied wall while following Nana and looking back at a homeless man who is begging with a cup held before him. That night, Nana listens to her grandchild’s fears and promises a better day, but she also describes her love of the city. A facing wordless spread depicts Nana knitting into the night; careful readers may recognize the red yarn from a title-page vignette of two cats with a ball of yarn. The next day, she gifts her grandchild a knitted red cape (the same one depicted in jacket art). This acts as a security blanket or magical talisman of sorts to change the child’s perspective of the city. Even an encounter with the previously “scary” homeless person becomes an opportunity for kindness as Nana hands him not money, but food. Throughout, Castillo’s soft, warmly colored art expresses the child’s changing feelings about the city while also depicting the characters’ close bond.

A sweet story for country-mouse readers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10443-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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