Ideal for sharing with sibling pairs about to be parted by the first day of school.

MAPLE & WILLOW APART

From the Maple series

Two sisters must adjust to being apart when one starts kindergarten.

Nichols’ pencil and digitally colored illustrations perfectly convey just how close Maple and Willow are—they even sometimes use pig Latin to communicate. The two spend the whole summer together, but they play especially hard the day before the Monday that Maple boards the school bus. Bereft, Willow doesn’t quite know what to do with herself without her best friend. That afternoon, she’s assaulted with a (not unkind) verbal barrage of all the exciting events of the first day at school, Maple’s nose in the air, as if bragging. But as the week wears on, Willow learns to explore on her own and use her imagination to entertain herself, even gaining a new best friend: Pip, an acorn. And as Willow tells Maple about her own day, Maple’s excitement wanes; though she likes school, she misses her sister, who sweetly finds a way to include Maple in what she is missing at home. Spot, full- and double-page illustrations with white backgrounds keep the focus on the girls and their relationship. Willow’s footie pajamas, overalls, and high pigtails emphasize that she is younger than her sister, as do the girls’ activities—Maple rides a two-wheeler, while Willow sits astride a branch with one end bent like handlebars.

Ideal for sharing with sibling pairs about to be parted by the first day of school. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: May 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16753-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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