Not too shabby for a first taste of the Bard.

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ROMEOSAURUS AND JULIET REX

Shakespeare’s classic tragedy gets a comic retelling and a happy ending.

“Once upon a time, one hundred and fifty million years ago….” Romeosaurus’ family (a mix of dino species) are herbivores, while Juliet Rex’s (T. Rexes and a pterodactyl nurse) delight in eating meat. The two meet at a masked ball, quickly becoming friends, though the herbivores must make a quick escape after Romeo helps Auntie Gladys off the buffet table, where she’s been trussed, with an apple in her mouth, and Mercutio-tops accidentally pokes Tybalt Rex with his horns. The balcony scene leads to a cementing of Romeo and Juliet’s friendship, and the two leave notes for their loved ones and run off to the tar pits. Knowing what danger that poses, Nurse-a-Dactyl and Mercutio-tops fly to the rescue (“We should have let them be friends!”), and the foursome agree that carnivores and herbivores can be friends (not meals). But this happily-ever-after is marred by a looming final-page meteorite. Indeed, O’Hara sprinkles humorous references throughout that will fly over kids’ heads, though parents will be in stitches: “Juliet Rex was waving her tiny arms in the air like she just didn’t care….” Joyner’s digital illustrations are a hoot. The dinos are dressed in Elizabethan finery (dino color and clothing color separating carnivores and herbivores, in addition to the former’s pointy teeth), and their expressions are sure to evince giggles, most being over-the-top.

Not too shabby for a first taste of the Bard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265274-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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