Beach lovers—or children who like to imagine the beach—may request this feel-good book on repeat.

MAYA GOES TO THE BEACH

Maya and her family are back, this time on a trip to the beach, in this third rhyming series installment from Maya and Jello and Gustyawan.

Maya and her family—all brown skinned with curly black hair—pile into their family van with their dog and all their beach equipment. Maya explains: “I’m so excited / Can’t wait to reach. / We’re heading to / My favorite beach.” The family walks down to the pier and settles into the sand, where Maya’s mother’s hat provides shade for nearly the whole family. Maya’s brother, Kyle, surfs while Maya plays in the sand—making pictures, burying her feet, and finally building a castle with the family that her dog, Biscuit, destroys. The rhyming text (which is sometimes awkwardly executed), offered in simple vocabulary, gives no real plot or conflict; instead, the verses describe positive moments in a family seaside trip. Gustyawan’s cartoon illustrations capture Maya’s enthusiasm, although the artist’s depiction of building a sand castle (with actual solid bricks of sand) is unlikely to match the experiences of actual beachgoers. The book’s design features one page of illustration opposite the text page, which is laid out against a zoomed-in close-up of a beach wave detail. Despite the fuzzy image, the text, in a clear black font, is clear and will be accessible to newly independent readers.

Beach lovers—or children who like to imagine the beach—may request this feel-good book on repeat.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 32

Publisher: M&J Literary Works Inc

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2020

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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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DONOVAN'S BIG DAY

It may be his mothers’ wedding day, but it’s Donovan’s big day in Newman’s (Heather Has Two Mommies, 1989, etc.) latest picture book about queer family life. Centered on the child’s experience and refreshingly eschewing reference to controversy, the book emerges as a celebration of not only Mommy’s and Mama’s mutual love but progress toward equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Readers, however, don't know immediately know why it is “a very BIG day” for Donovan or what the “very BIG job” is that he has to do. In his affectionate, humorous gouache paintings with digital finish, Dutton cleverly includes clues in the form of family pictures in an earlier spread set inside their home, and then a later spread shows Donovan in a suit and placing a “little white satin box that Aunt Jennifer gave him” into his pocket, hinting toward his role as ring bearer. But it’s not until the third-to-last spread that he stands with his parents and hands “one shiny gold ring to Mommy [and] one shiny gold ring to Mama.” He, of course, gets to kiss the brides on the last page, lending a happily-ever-after sensibility to the end of this story about a family's new beginning. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-332-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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