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 Press

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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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