By the end of the book, readers will be all set for school too: this is sure to provoke shared laughter that will calm the...

DAD'S FIRST DAY

With tongue firmly in cheek, Wohnoutka recognizes that kids going to school for the first time aren’t the only ones who are nervous.

Oliver and his dad have spent a wonderful summer bonding and doing all sorts of fabulous things—readers will get the distinct impression that this is a stay-at-home dad. But now it’s time for school to start. Oliver’s ready. His dad? Not so much. “Oliver’s dad didn’t feel so good.” Oliver reassures him, “you’re just a little nervous,” and then tries to get him moving. But, like a toddler when his parent is late, there are just a few things Oliver’s dad has to do before leaving, including putting a puzzle together and hiding in three different places. When Oliver finally gets his dad to school, the teacher has to pry him off Oliver. Wohnoutka’s gouache illustrations, and the way they play up the deadpan text for humor, are the real stars here. “The teacher walked Oliver’s dad outside,” carrying him kicking and screaming, Oliver calmly saying goodbye, a smile on his face. After he disconsolately does some chores for a bit, a quick peek through the classroom window puts Oliver’s dad at ease; he’s finally ready for school. Though Oliver and his dad are both Caucasian, the teacher is brown-skinned, possibly Latina.

By the end of the book, readers will be all set for school too: this is sure to provoke shared laughter that will calm the fears of even the most unready parents. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-6196-3473-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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