Specific visuals ground this sweet celebration of simple pleasures.

MY HEART FILLS WITH HAPPINESS

Black-haired, brown-skinned children describe many sources of happiness in this board book, dedicated by the author to “former Indian Residential School students.”

“My heart fills with happiness when… / I see the face of someone I love // I smell bannock baking in the oven / I sing.” Author Smith, who is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish-Canadian, infuses her simple text with the occasional detail that bespeaks her First Nations heritage even as she celebrates universal pleasures. In addition to the smell of bannock, the narrator delights in dancing, listening to stories, and drumming. Cree-Métis artist Flett introduces visual details that further underscore this heritage, as in the moccasins, shawl, and braids worn by the dancing child and the drum and drumsticks wielded by the adult and toddler who lovingly make music together. (The “I drum” spread is repeated immediately, possibly to emphasize its importance, a detail that may disorient readers expecting a different scene.) Although the narrative voice is consistent, the children depicted change, which readers will note by hairstyle, dress, and relative age. The bannock bakes in a modern kitchen, and most of the clothing is likewise Western, emphasizing that these Native Americans are contemporary children. There is nothing in the text that specifically identifies them by nation, however.

Specific visuals ground this sweet celebration of simple pleasures. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0957-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A sweet if uneven expression of parents’ love for babies.

EVERYTHING YOU

A love song to baby.

Rhyming verse expresses animal parents’ love for their little ones and is accompanied by cartoon-style illustrations of animal families rendered in bold colors and rounded forms. The succinct text pairs nicely with the spare art style, which offers uncluttered spreads focused on the parent-and-child interactions. “You’re everything FRESH, / the morning’s first dew,” reads one spread, for example, which is illustrated with a picture of a panda cub standing on top of its prone parent while reaching for a dewdrop falling from a branch. Behind them, a blue background is warmed by a huge, yellow semicircle representing the rising sun. Other animal families occupy other pages, so there’s no sequential storyline to speak of, but the text as a whole is framed by an opening spread depicting crocodile parents waiting for their (very large) egg to hatch, and hatch it does in the closing spread, which reads, “You’re every wish answered, / our hearts, how they grew… / every day countless, / everything you.” While the sentiment here is heartfelt, this use of “every day countless” is one example of several instances when word choices undermine clarity.

A sweet if uneven expression of parents’ love for babies. (Picture book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30141-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Fans of the earworm will enjoy Baby Shark’s expanded universe.

MEET BABY SHARK

Little ones meet Baby Shark’s extended family and friends in this board-book version of the viral online Pinkfong video.

Sensibly, this offering does not attempt to replicate the song, since readers have likely viewed it multiple times if the 3.5 billion views (and counting) are any indication. Each line of this version is shared on a double-page spread featuring a character: Baby Shark, the rest of the Shark family (Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, and Grandpa), and a couple of critters not mentioned in the song (Baby Turtle, a terrified fish named William, and Pinkfong, the brand’s fox logo). The primary text will be meaningful only to readers familiar with the song: “GRANDPA SHARK DOO-DOO-DOO-DOO-DOO-DOO.” A few words about each character and how they relate to Baby Shark accompany their appearance: “Grandpa Shark is wise and smart. He enjoys sharing his cooking skills with Baby Shark.” Rounded tabs at the top and the right margin of the book allow little fingers to easily turn the pages and readily access their favorite spreads. The two-dimensional gum ball–colored art is true to the source, and fans will not be disappointed. While Mommy and Daddy are color-coded in pink and blue, respectively and stereotypically, the rest of the creatures featured are not assigned colors based on gender.

Fans of the earworm will enjoy Baby Shark’s expanded universe. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-296589-9

Page Count: 18

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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