This powerful ode to community delivers a timeless message of humility, perseverance, and hope.

OUTSIDE, INSIDE

Pham addresses the adversity and resulting growth experienced individually and collectively while the world sheltered in place.

This uplifting reflection on the spring 2020 coronavirus lockdowns expounds on the resiliency of the human spirit as everyone the world over shut themselves indoors. Several different locales and styles of homes are depicted, highlighting the global impact of this almost universal experience. The simple, first-person narrative emphasizes we through deliberate pacing and repetitive use, firmly cementing the theme of togetherness and connection. While the narrative never explicitly names the virus, this accounting is sensitive to both the challenges and triumphs of navigating this new reality of shared vulnerability. A busy street scene filled with masked first responders and other essential workers is followed by a double-page montage of hospital views inspired by real events. One double-page spread shows families cooking and playing while also featuring anxious faces of adults and a frustrated child at a computer screen. These vignettes are outlined in angular edges, reflecting the uncertain, disjointed feelings experienced by all. A following spread shows a larger spectrum of daily moments, this time shaped in sturdy squares and rectangles that signal a newfound stability as people learned to endure and adapt. Told with a gentle but steadying reassurance, this book posits that despite differences or the distances among us, everyone stayed inside because “it was the right thing to do.” Intentionally diverse, the characters represent a wide range of racial presentations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 30.5% of actual size.)

This powerful ode to community delivers a timeless message of humility, perseverance, and hope. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79835-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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Cute but not substantive, and the wording may be off-putting.

YOU MAKE ME HAPPY

Fox and Porcupine celebrate the many ways they enjoy each other.

“You make me happy, / like birds taking flight, / like a waterfall twinkling, / like morning’s first light. // The things that you do, and the things that you say, / fill me with sunshine and brighten my day.” Throughout the seasons, readers are treated to a look at all the lovely times the duo have. Even when the text hints that one is feeling down and the other is cheering them on, the acrylic-paint–and–colored-pencil artwork shows both feeling glad, demanding that readers guess which might have been sad. That’s not the only thing readers will have to guess either. It’s unclear whether this relationship is friendly, romantic, or familial; at times the text and illustrations make it seem as though it could be any of these. And the first-person narrator is also never identified. The idea is certainly sweet, the roly-poly pair are delightfully expressive and adorable, and the sentiments expressed are those caregivers appreciate and celebrate in their children. Still, the wording may cause adults to cringe, especially those trained in psychology and like subjects that emphasize that confidence and well-being do not rest on externalities: “You make me happy and hopeful and strong.”

Cute but not substantive, and the wording may be off-putting. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-849-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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