Delightful and unpretentious in its approach to welcoming the Sabbath.

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THE SCHMUTZY FAMILY

The Schmutzy family, appropriately named for their carefree exploration of all things messy, cleans up perfectly at the end of each week for a proper Sabbath celebration.

From Sunday until Thursday, Mama and Papa Schmutzy’s brood of five play, create, and discover. They wade in “the malodorous Feldman Swamp” and bring an assortment of flora and fauna back. At home, they decorate their clothes with tomato sauce, enjoy their “blue period” with blueberries, gather earthworms in the vegetable garden and paint additional fruits on their pineapple wallpaper. Through it all, this modern Jewish Mama is unfazed, going about her motherly chores without a “tsk or tut.” But on Friday morning, her Yiddish persona comes out as she exclaims, “Oy! Look at this dirt! You’re FARSHTUNKEN, all of you! And it’s nearly SHABBOS. We can’t bring in the Sabbath smelling like COWS!” And so the clean-up begins, culminating in a wonderfully full Friday-night Shabbos dinner with an extended family of 12, followed by an early-morning Saturday walk to services. A combination of India ink, watercolor, acrylic, pencil and pastel artwork depicts the humorous chaos of a family that balances a live-and-let-live attitude with a weekly ritual and routine.

Delightful and unpretentious in its approach to welcoming the Sabbath. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2371-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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