WHO IS MAKING A MESS?

Good clean fun.

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. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

I LOVE YOU MORE, BABYSAUR

From the Punderland series

Not a great choice for the youngest dinosaur lovers.

A board-book ode to parental love as old as the dinosaurs.

A line of text on the left of each spread reads like a dinosaur-themed valentine that a third grader might choose, with punishingly punny wordplay that incorporates dinosaur-related words. On the facing page a dinosaur pair—a baby and an adult—gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes against whimsical, pastel-hued prehistoric-ish backgrounds. In smaller print, in all caps, at the bottom of the left page is the scientific name for the dinosaur referenced by the text and picture followed by a helpful phonetic pronunciation guide. White-outlined footprints appear next to their names, though the white is sometimes difficult to see against the pastel pages. Ten of the best-known dinosaurs are included. Twisting the dinosaur names to fit the loving sentiments succeeds some of the time but more often results in tortured text, well beyond the understanding of the board book audience. The line accompanying two hugging velociraptors, for instance, is just confusing: “Wrap-TOR arms around me, / with you I’ll always stay.” Others are just plain clumsy: “I-wanna-GUANODON you kisses, / I truly just adore you.” Very young children, even those fascinated by dinosaurs, will not get it. Older dinosaur fans will be put off by the babyish format.

Not a great choice for the youngest dinosaur lovers. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2295-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

YOU ARE MY HAPPY

Guess how much you’ll be reading this.

Parent and child share a day of small adventures and cozy snuggles.

That the two happen to be tortoises is totally beside the point. Die-cut holes and shaped edges turn nearly every page flip into a surprise. Following a parental “Good morning, Baby” to greet the youngling’s “Wake up, wake up, I want to play… / The sun is up, it’s a brand new day!” the two reptiles ramble off to munch on leaves, weather a sudden rain shower, discover a flock of butterflies, climb a hill, watch the moon rise, and, at last, weary little one perched on top, settle down to snooze again. The paper engineering is ingenious. Turning a seemingly arbitrarily shaped page with a special window framing a pink butterfly fills the spread with many jewel-toned insects; even though the tortoises never change position, the scene is completely transformed. Hegarty’s rhymed narrative features lots of tender sentiments—“Wherever you are, wherever you go, / Baby, I’ll always love you so”—while steering clear of any gender references. In Elliott’s peaceful, grassy settings the wanderers’ small smiles and shared glances likewise create a sense of loving intimacy. This is likely to become a victim of its own appeal, being as the paper stock is rather too flimsy to survive much contact with toddler hands. Still, a clear winner for sharing with audiences of one or dozens.

Guess how much you’ll be reading this. (Novelty. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3509-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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