HERO DAD

What makes a superhero? Dad doesn't wear rocket-powered boots; he wears army boots. He doesn't have x-ray vision; he has night vision. He doesn't wear a cloak of invisibility; he wears camouflage. Hardin leads the reader through eight attributes of this hero Dad, whom readers see as a soldier in the desert, jumping from a plane, riding in a tank, hanging with his buddies: "He doesn't have a sidekick, he has a platoon." Langdo's watercolor-and-pencil illustrations have an appealing simplicity and texture, almost as if made by the boy narrator himself. The penultimate picture shows Dad walking toward his home, a yellow-beribboned tree prominently featured, and his buoyant family. The final page echoes the first, just dad and his young son, with this conclusion in bright red: "My dad is a hero, my superhero." The boy and his family have coffee-with-cream–colored skin and dark hair, though no specific ethnicity is indicated. An important message, delivered with effective straightforwardness and an abundance of heart. Next, can we please have a Hero Mom to make a matched set? (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5713-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime.

ELBOW GREASE VS. MOTOZILLA

Who needs sanity when you’ve got family?

The title character of Elbow Grease (2018) and his family of Demolition Derby trucks return to face an all-new competitor. Once again, ’Bo is feeling inadequate next to his fan-favorite brothers. Despite Mel the Mechanic’s encouragement—he’s “the best at getting better”—he wants to be noticed. But instead, he notices someone unavoidable. Motozilla, the monster machine that turns trucks “into crunch sandwiches,” is currently undefeated. Trouble is, you’d need a truck with an array of skills to take him down. Thinking fast, ’Bo makes the wild and somewhat improbable suggestion that he and his brothers join together to form a single supertruck. Will it be enough to take down this bully? Quips, jests, and teamwork are the name of the game as pro wrestler Cena improves on his writing in this second outing, which demonstrates that individual glory falls in the face of concentrated cooperation. Rollicking, radical art portrays the battle in all its gritty glory, mud and twisted metal galore. Human crowds show a diverse range of races and genders, and the trucks’ keeper, Mel, has light-brown skin and wears glasses.

Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7353-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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