This bedtime book is good for some laughs—even though it feels a bit tired.

READ REVIEW

HOW TO PUT YOUR PARENTS TO BED

Role reversal finds a little girl trying to put her parents to bed.

Direct address aligns child readers with the “you” in the text—a spirited little blonde, white girl who resists her parents’ attempts to get her to go to bed. After several attempts fail, the text directs attention to beleaguered parents: “Poor things. Just between you and me, they are not looking their best. They need to go to BED.” Cole’s accompanying illustration shows a close-up of dazed, disheveled parents with bags under their eyes. Ensuing pages show the parents resisting bedtime due to adult preoccupations—household chores, cellphones, and so on—brought to humorous extremes through the art. The story unravels a bit when outright regression sets in, and the parents simply start to act as the girl did at the beginning of the book by resisting bedtime for resistance’s sake. They even demand bedtime stories. In a rather predictable turn of events, when they finally go to sleep, the little girl is tuckered out and falls asleep too. Although the story falters in these ways, Cole’s art is defined by its energetic line and humor, which help elevate the book as a whole.

This bedtime book is good for some laughs—even though it feels a bit tired. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-232064-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones.

YOU ARE MY HAPPY

As the day draws to a close, a parent bear recalls those events shared with their child that gratified them, from observing hatching nestlings to the stars that come out at bedtime.

The scansion works and the emotions expressed are sweet, but that’s the limit of this book’s achievement. Mason is unable to create a coherent visual narrative that explicates and expands on the nonsensical text, which opens and closes with a parental address to “my fuzzy one” but in between is unclear as to who is expressing the syrupy sentiments. The sequence of sentence fragments “For special friends who made me giggle / and silly songs that made me wiggle. // For space to play, for shade to rest, / for secret spots we love the best” is illustrated in two double-page spreads with images of the young bear first playing with a young raccoon and second intently observing a caterpillar. Although that implies the young bear is speaking, the iteration of the refrain that ungrammatically brings the sequence to a close—“That’s what made me happy”—seems to bring the narration back to the parent bear. But really, giving up on sense seems to be the best one can expect from a book with a title that inartfully co-opts an adjective as a noun.

Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288789-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents.

TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU

A poetic ode to women who became mothers despite the challenges they faced.

Whether navigating the roughest seas, crossing the hottest deserts, or pushing through painful brambles, the mothers in this book know their long, hard journeys were worth the effort. There might have been failure and doubt, but now that it’s all over, they know they’d “do it all over again. For you.” First-person narration expresses in metaphor the extraordinary lengths some mothers will go to achieve their dream of holding a child in their arms. Sentimental and flowery, the text is broad enough to apply to the journeys of many mothers—even though the text is gender neutral, the illustrations clearly center the mother’s experience. At times another figure, often male-presenting, is shown alongside a mother. Soft, jewel-toned illustrations peppered with textures depict families with a variety of skin tones and hair colors/textures. The assortment of mothers shown demonstrates the universality of the message, but it also contributes to the absence of a strong visual throughline. In the concluding author’s note, Serhant shares her personal struggle to conceive her child, which included fertility treatments and IVF. Ultimately, although the sentiment is lovely, the message is too abstract to be understood by children and will be better received and appreciated by parents.

Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17388-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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