WHO IS MAKING A MESS?

From spilled motor oil to sprayed water, everyone makes a mess.

The repeated phrase “Who is making a mess?” finds everyone from Grandpa to the baby involved in the untidiness. The marriage of D’Haene’s text with Ryan’s illustrations invites readers to guess who’s made each mess based on the images. The purposefully vague initial depiction of the culprit often challenges readers’ assumptions of who has left each smear or heap of debris. For example, the opening illustration shows a denim-clad someone changing the oil in a car, legs poking out from underneath. A turn of the page reveals that it is Mama making that mess while her partner or spouse (gender is unclear) wrangles the little ones. Other scenes—Grandpa baking while wearing an apron and with a baby in a back carrier—play out similarly. The diverse cast includes same-sex parents, interracial families, and many children and adults of color. The repetition of D’Haene’s question-and-answer structure makes it nicely predictable for little readers, with familiarity quicker to build upon repeat readings. Ryan’s illustrations feel alive thanks to the motion of the mess itself, with flying blobs of batter, juicy drips of food, and sprinkles of grease and oil. Charming details provide plenty for readers to pore over each page, and the deep orange, red, and golden yellow tones give the book warmth.

Good clean fun. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68152-503-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Amicus Ink

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A sweet if uneven expression of parents’ love for babies.

EVERYTHING YOU

A love song to baby.

Rhyming verse expresses animal parents’ love for their little ones and is accompanied by cartoon-style illustrations of animal families rendered in bold colors and rounded forms. The succinct text pairs nicely with the spare art style, which offers uncluttered spreads focused on the parent-and-child interactions. “You’re everything FRESH, / the morning’s first dew,” reads one spread, for example, which is illustrated with a picture of a panda cub standing on top of its prone parent while reaching for a dewdrop falling from a branch. Behind them, a blue background is warmed by a huge, yellow semicircle representing the rising sun. Other animal families occupy other pages, so there’s no sequential storyline to speak of, but the text as a whole is framed by an opening spread depicting crocodile parents waiting for their (very large) egg to hatch, and hatch it does in the closing spread, which reads, “You’re every wish answered, / our hearts, how they grew… / every day countless, / everything you.” While the sentiment here is heartfelt, this use of “every day countless” is one example of several instances when word choices undermine clarity.

A sweet if uneven expression of parents’ love for babies. (Picture book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30141-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A comforting celebration of everyday courage with lots of charm to boot.

I AM SO BRAVE!

From the Empowerment series

This upbeat ode to conquering fears will resonate with tots both timid and not.

The sparse text of this sturdy board book is a series of three quatrains, presented one brief line per spread, describing the various fears a little boy has overcome: “I was scared of big dogs. / Then I made a new friend. // I was scared of the water. / Now I love the deep end.” Having also conquered fears of the dark, loud horns and goodbyes, he proclaims on the final pages: “I’m not scared like before. / I am so brave!” The skillful verses read smoothly and depict situations that toddlers and preschoolers will relate to. The illustrations center around a wide-eyed African-American child as the main character, with Caucasian children also populating some of the scenes, including the final spread, which features the narrator leaping boldly into a pit of colored balls. The design and color scheme, mostly bright blues, yellows and reds, give the title a distinctly vintage feel, which will lend it appeal to both adults and children.

A comforting celebration of everyday courage with lots of charm to boot. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0937-1

Page Count: 12

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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