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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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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