He truly might be the bonniest baby in Dundee, or in any town.

THE FOURTH BONNIEST BABY IN DUNDEE

Take one proud big sister, mix in the love of all the grannies in town and a baby beauty contest, and you have the fixings for a jolly read-aloud.

Related in irresistible rhyme, this Scottish import tells the tale of one blond, peach-skinned baby whose big sister enters him in a contest. And what a sweetie he is! “ ‘No time to lose!’ I shout to Mum. / ‘There’s a trophy to be won! / Let’s get our baby home and in the bath!’ ” Unfortunately, though his family prepares him for the big event, the world has other plans. The bus breaks down, it begins to “bucket down with rain,” the streetlights refuse to let them cross the street, and the bus splashes water on the tot, who is now “the dirtiest baby in Dundee!” The baby makes it worse by blowing a raspberry at the judge! But even though three other babies win ribbons before the treasured child, he does get his fourth-place ribbon, and all is well. Energetic watercolor-and-collage illustrations appropriately depict a multiethnic Dundee and reflect the exuberant verse, which is straight from the mouth of the proud big sister. Occasional Scottish words (“cheeky,” “bairn,” “claggie,” “wee,” and more) add to the fun. While American readers might not be familiar with these words, each is easy to decode and understand in context or from looking at the pictures. The rhyme begs to be read aloud—with or without a bonny Scottish accent.

He truly might be the bonniest baby in Dundee, or in any town. (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78250-314-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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