Step on by this one—similar, better books abound.

SWEET BABY FEET

So sweet it just might make your teeth hurt, though there’s not much to chew on.

O’Hair and Dockray’s day-in-the-toddler-life collaboration follows Baby’s busy day with rhyming text that preserves meter by locking readers into a singsong rhythm. “Mama’s there. / Never misses / When she gives / Baby kisses.” Mama is exhausted by day’s end, but Baby (now clad in pajamas) is raring to go. Perhaps Mama is so tired because she’s been alone with her rambunctious child all day: A father appears in an early picture, reading the newspaper, dressed for work, briefcase by his side and looking aghast as Baby makes a mess at her highchair while Mama sweetly smiles. Unmentioned in the text, the only other time he appears is in a washed-out family portrait hanging on the wall. Illustrations also add unmentioned pets but otherwise stay tied to the text without elevating or extending it. Worse yet, the cover art sadly presents an awkwardly rendered depiction of the all-important “sweet baby feet,” which here look out of proportion and poorly drawn, especially compared to other picture-book paeans to feet—Kiyomi Konagaya and Masamitsu Saito’s Beach Feet (2012), and C.W. Bowie and Fred Willingham’s Busy Toes (1998), to name just a pair.

Step on by this one—similar, better books abound. (Picture book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-374-37348-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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