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CUTE & CUTER

Cute overload. (Picture book. 4-7)

Janie Jane’s birthday presents are cute—and in competition for her attention.

When Janie Jane, maven of cute, receives the adorable puppy Sir Yips-a-lot, she is in cute heaven. The two spend all their time together until Janie Jane’s next birthday, when she opens the pink packaging to reveal an even more adorable gift: a kitten. Lady Meow-Meow captures her new owner’s heart, and the inevitable occurs: Sir Yips-a-lot feels left out and plans the demise of this feline interloper. Seeing Janie Jane’s distress, the dog repents and rushes to correct his transgression. The search and rescue of the little kitty allows the two pets to make amends and appreciate each another. Each spread is a lively mixture of comic-book elements such as speech bubbles, small and large frames, exaggerated types to show emotion and traditional narration. The design often overwhelms the story—at times readers need some relief from the garish, supersaturated blues, greens and pinks. The art style is comedic as well, with wide-mouthed grins and billiard-ball eyes the order of the day. The simplistic style will be easy for young readers to imitate if they want to continue the story on their own. Families with a new baby might find this helpful for older children exploring their own feelings of jealousy. Others may find Townsend’s delivery is just too darn effective.

Cute overload.  (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-85718-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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I'M PROUD OF YOU

Affectionate and affirming.

Today co-anchor Melvin pens an ode to the father-son bond.

A dad lists all the things he admires about his son, including the boy’s willingness to face his fears (such as diving into the swimming pool) and his ability to “make people laugh, / bring joy to folks.” The child shows “kindness and grace” when apologizing for a mistake, and he perseveres in the face of failure (“They can’t all be wins”). The boy has an inquisitive mind (“You ask questions and investigate. / Who knows what you’ll find?”), and he’s a caring big brother who loves building sand castles with his younger sibling. Ultimately, the father salutes his son for the person he is “through good times and bad, / no matter what.” Melvin conveys the joy of watching a child grow into a strong, capable adult while maintaining a sense of childlike wonder. Rather than focusing on traditionally masculine activities or attitudes, he celebrates qualities such as emotional intelligence and a nurturing spirit. While the text on occasion dips into sentimentality, overall Melvin delivers a sound message. Cloud’s digital illustrations depict the family and their diverse community with expressive faces, capturing their myriad emotions and lending the book an exuberant tone. The father presents Black, his partner appears white, and the tan-skinned children are biracial; all are unnamed.

Affectionate and affirming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063206137

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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