Warm and wonderful.

A very young boy finds joy in a difficult situation.

When Oscar’s mom brings him to live with his grandmother for a while, he is frightened and lonely. After his painful, emotional goodbye to his mom, Nana hugs him and reassures him. That first tearful night is so very difficult, despite the companionship of his toy monkey, the photo of mom and him next to him on the pillow, and a comforting thumb to suck. The next morning there’s a lovely breakfast, a jigsaw puzzle, and drawing with Nana and the cat. When Oscar carefully helps to water a drooping plant, Nana takes notice and brings him to a special store to purchase seeds, soil, containers, and tools. With lots of patience and Oscar’s careful tending, Nana’s apartment and terrace fill up with greenery, vines, and flowers. So many, in fact, that they gift all the neighbors with the lovely plants, making lots of new friends. The story is told entirely without words in a series of fully detailed, beautifully crafted, colorful vignettes of varying sizes. In them readers see and understand mom’s, Nana’s, and, of course, Oscar’s emotions in their faces and body language. Oscar and his family present White, with beige skin tones; Nana is refreshingly youthful looking. There are lovely surprises in the views of the apartments and their very diverse occupants before and after Oscar’s triumph. A lovely, joyful reunion with mom is comforting for young readers cuddled with their grown-ups.

Warm and wonderful. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1777-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021



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


Stick to separate books about parental love and prayer instead.

This Is Us actor Metz and her partner, songwriter Collins, present a rhyming children’s book about prayer and parental love.

“When I talk to God, guess what I do? / It’s really quite simple: I talk about you.” Fields’ pencil and digital illustrations show different parent-child animal pairs throughout, from bears to otters to skunks, ducks, deer, and more. But from this auspicious beginning, the authors’ point of view and direct address to “you,” the child, makes the majority of the pages seem like affirmations of what they love about their child and not what the parent actually prays for. Adults reading this aloud may see this as a prayer of thanksgiving for their child’s gifts and qualities, but little listeners will not make that connection. In the final pages, the parent tells the child that they can talk to God, too, and that God is always by their side. The last spread states, “You’re my sweetest prayer.” While the individual parts are sweet and affirming of a parent’s love and pride in their child, the sum of those parts isn’t what’s advertised in the title and repetitive refrain “When I talk to God, / I talk about you.” The gentle artwork in soft colors anthropomorphizes the animals’ facial expressions to make their loving relationships clear. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Stick to separate books about parental love and prayer instead. (Religious picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52524-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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