Calming, positive, and serenely affirmative.

YOU HOLD ME UP

A simple recitation of the ways that people can be supportive of one another.

“This book was written in the spirit of reconciliation and is dedicated to the children, families and staff of Aboriginal Head Start programs.” That is the dedication; at the end, there is a longer note about notorious Indian Residential schools, where, for over 150 years, indigenous children in Canada were humiliated and abused. In between, all the words and art offer a warm and positive message. Simple and pointed phrases are printed boldly on white or pastel backgrounds on half of each double-page spread, with stylized, bright, watercolor illustrations on each opposing page. Each brown- or tan-skinned face has cheeks with outlined, bright pink circles; other features are sweetly expressive lines of ink, sometimes including little hearts for mouths. Birds, flowers, and gaily patterned wallpapers add to a feeling of contentment and communal power. The image of an adult and two children, eyes closed, singing outside by moonlight and beating on drums, is especially strong, as is an illustration of two hugging children of different skin colors and hair types. The titular phrase “You hold me up,” followed by simple words such as “when you listen to me,” is used several times until the final pages, where it is replaced by “I hold you up” and “We hold each other up.” A final, multigenerational picnic is lovely.

Calming, positive, and serenely affirmative. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1447-9

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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