The perfect text for both budding activists and children interested in what Vice President Harris was like as a child.

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KAMALA AND MAYA'S BIG IDEA

Before she was the first biracial, Black and South Asian female vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris was a little girl with big dreams.

One morning, Kamala and her sister, Maya, look out the window of their apartment and realize that their building is missing something essential: a playground! Following their mother’s advice, Kamala writes (and Maya illustrates) a letter to the landlord asking for one in their building’s courtyard. When they deliver their letter, the landlord immediately says no—but Kamala and Maya won’t take that for an answer. After getting permission to build the playground themselves, Kamala, Maya, and the other kids in their building get organized. At first, most of the adults are too busy or too distracted to help them, and all they hear is no. But then Mr. Green says that maybe he could get materials for a sandbox—and, as far as Kamala and Maya are concerned, maybes can become yeses. By the end of the book, through ingenuity, perseverance, and cooperation, Maya and Kamala don’t just have their playground: They also have the confidence they need to become lifelong public servants. In this sunnily illustrated picture book, author Harris—Vice President Harris’ niece and Maya Harris’ daughter—imagines the details of a true story her mother told her growing up. The clear and readable storyline deftly balances optimism with the challenges of community organizing.

The perfect text for both budding activists and children interested in what Vice President Harris was like as a child. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293740-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Cute but not substantive, and the wording may be off-putting.

YOU MAKE ME HAPPY

Fox and Porcupine celebrate the many ways they enjoy each other.

“You make me happy, / like birds taking flight, / like a waterfall twinkling, / like morning’s first light. // The things that you do, and the things that you say, / fill me with sunshine and brighten my day.” Throughout the seasons, readers are treated to a look at all the lovely times the duo have. Even when the text hints that one is feeling down and the other is cheering them on, the acrylic-paint–and–colored-pencil artwork shows both feeling glad, demanding that readers guess which might have been sad. That’s not the only thing readers will have to guess either. It’s unclear whether this relationship is friendly, romantic, or familial; at times the text and illustrations make it seem as though it could be any of these. And the first-person narrator is also never identified. The idea is certainly sweet, the roly-poly pair are delightfully expressive and adorable, and the sentiments expressed are those caregivers appreciate and celebrate in their children. Still, the wording may cause adults to cringe, especially those trained in psychology and like subjects that emphasize that confidence and well-being do not rest on externalities: “You make me happy and hopeful and strong.”

Cute but not substantive, and the wording may be off-putting. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-849-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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