There's not much new about this new-baby book.

READ REVIEW

MONKEY NOT READY FOR THE BABY

From the Monkey series

With the help of his parents and big brother, Monkey gets ready to become a big brother, too.

An anthropomorphic monkey family composed of a pregnant mother, a father, big brother, and little brother prepares to welcome a third monkey-child. Everyone is happy about the baby, except, as the title suggests, for Monkey. “I like being a little brother,” is his response as the others revel in their excitement. While they anticipate, reminisce, and prepare, Monkey frets and tries to work out his feelings. Ultimately, a visit to the doctor’s office with Mommy allows Monkey to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and this seems to make him feel more at peace and perhaps even excited, too. But this crucial emotional shift is quite understated in both text and art, which undermines successful storytelling. Brown’s colored-pencil–and-gouache illustrations will seem familiar to fans of his Arthur books and TV series, but the hand-lettered text and linework successfully render the overall style more expressive than the flatter aesthetic found in those stories. Daddy and Mommy involve Monkey in baby preparations, and when Monkey holds his new sister in the hospital, he is unequivocally happy. Ultimately, however, there’s little to distinguish this new-baby book from others with the same well-trod theme.

There's not much new about this new-baby book. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93327-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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