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A perfect summer’s day bound in 32 pages

This daylong idyll depicts the sweetest of sibling relationships, with big sister Stella indulging and guiding little brother Sam in child-sized flights of fancy.

When Sam hauls a wagon loaded with sticks and scrap lumber onto the page and announces he’s building a doghouse for Fred, she doesn’t rain on his parade, she just settles down to read while he gets to work. “Does your book tell you how to build a doghouse?” he asks after a bit. “No,” she says. “But I can help you.” Throughout a day that includes a picnic by the pond, kite flying, tending the garden and gazing at the clouds, Stella reads and talks to Sam about her books. But despite Stella’s invitations, he’s not interested in being read to till nighttime, when “Fred can’t sleep” and needs a story. Stella is happy to oblige. Her low-pressure approach to sharing her evident love of books is wisely intuitive, allowing Sam the space to come to it on his own. Gay’s watercolor, pencil, pastel and collage illustrations fill each scene with a riot of details for children to pore over again and again. On one page, a bunny reads Stella’s book while she helps Sam with the doghouse; on another, two birds and a caterpillar share space on a makeshift clothesline with Stella’s wet socks. Stella’s wild, red mop of curls seems to have enough energy to power several states.

A perfect summer’s day bound in 32 pages . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55498-216-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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