Half-baked—but sweet nonetheless.

READ REVIEW

BAKE LIKE MOMMY

A child “helps” Mommy in the kitchen.

The first-person text is narrated by a child whose feminine clothing and hairstyle suggest she is a girl and recounts her delighted efforts to bake with her mother. These efforts, however, seem more likely to cause consternation than pleasure, but the mother’s reactions to her daughter’s spilling sprinkles on the floor, pouring milk into many more cups than needed for pancakes, and blowing a tower of paper muffin cups across the table, among other things, never appear on the page. Instead, each spread over the course of a week features the girl’s antics in the kitchen, resulting in a list of sorts: brownies on Tuesday, meringues on Thursday, a Swiss roll on Friday, etc. Playful, descriptive language and the naïve, faux printmaking style of the digital art create an engaging tone: “When [the Swiss roll] was cooked, we slathered it with cream and Mommy rolled it up. Then all the cream OOOOzed out of the end. It looked like a roly-poly sausage.” Still, the book has just about as much substance as one of the pair’s meringues, and readers may find themselves wishing for more of a story to sink their teeth into. Both mother and daughter appear white.

Half-baked—but sweet nonetheless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-910716-64-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boxer Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones.

YOU ARE MY HAPPY

As the day draws to a close, a parent bear recalls those events shared with their child that gratified them, from observing hatching nestlings to the stars that come out at bedtime.

The scansion works and the emotions expressed are sweet, but that’s the limit of this book’s achievement. Mason is unable to create a coherent visual narrative that explicates and expands on the nonsensical text, which opens and closes with a parental address to “my fuzzy one” but in between is unclear as to who is expressing the syrupy sentiments. The sequence of sentence fragments “For special friends who made me giggle / and silly songs that made me wiggle. // For space to play, for shade to rest, / for secret spots we love the best” is illustrated in two double-page spreads with images of the young bear first playing with a young raccoon and second intently observing a caterpillar. Although that implies the young bear is speaking, the iteration of the refrain that ungrammatically brings the sequence to a close—“That’s what made me happy”—seems to bring the narration back to the parent bear. But really, giving up on sense seems to be the best one can expect from a book with a title that inartfully co-opts an adjective as a noun.

Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288789-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents.

TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU

A poetic ode to women who became mothers despite the challenges they faced.

Whether navigating the roughest seas, crossing the hottest deserts, or pushing through painful brambles, the mothers in this book know their long, hard journeys were worth the effort. There might have been failure and doubt, but now that it’s all over, they know they’d “do it all over again. For you.” First-person narration expresses in metaphor the extraordinary lengths some mothers will go to achieve their dream of holding a child in their arms. Sentimental and flowery, the text is broad enough to apply to the journeys of many mothers—even though the text is gender neutral, the illustrations clearly center the mother’s experience. At times another figure, often male-presenting, is shown alongside a mother. Soft, jewel-toned illustrations peppered with textures depict families with a variety of skin tones and hair colors/textures. The assortment of mothers shown demonstrates the universality of the message, but it also contributes to the absence of a strong visual throughline. In the concluding author’s note, Serhant shares her personal struggle to conceive her child, which included fertility treatments and IVF. Ultimately, although the sentiment is lovely, the message is too abstract to be understood by children and will be better received and appreciated by parents.

Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17388-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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