Bit of a sticky mess

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SWEET COMPETITION

A linked pair of cherries is the star of this fable with a familiar theme: cooperation is better than competition.

Uncomfortably joined at the stalk, each cherry has his or her own ideas for what he or she wants to do. (They are fraternal twins, gendered stereotypically with bows: Boy Cherry has a bowtie, Girl Cherry a bow on her bald red head.) They are always competing: higher or lower on the swings, cooler or smarter, double or triple ice cream cones. The joined-together problem becomes a major obstacle when they join two separate teams to compete in a super sundae event, along with other familiar food items including a banana, a jar of hot fudge, a brownie, and a bunch of scoops of ice cream. Belatedly the cherries realize that they can do better helping each other out than by competing. Girl Cherry helps Boy Cherry climb the ladder to the top of the sky-high split, then boy helps girl navigate the murky pool of melted dessert to Brownie’s float, and they join forces to beat out the competition at the talent show. The illustrations consist of staged photos of fairly crude painted clay representations of various foodstuffs positioned rather stiffly in minimal sets. The sculptures have a homespun quality that sometimes makes them difficult to interpret, and the food jokes are unrelenting (“Your team is jam on my toast!”).

Bit of a sticky mess .(Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-240359-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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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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