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With exuberant verse, Van Laan (When Winter Comes, 2000, etc.) cheerfully turns supper into child’s play. Mealtime has never been such fun as a rabbit mother and her tot frolic their way through a meal. The doting mother uses rollicking rhymes and games to alternately entertain and coax her little one to eat. With an ebullient blend of nonsense words and bouncy word play, Van Laan’s jolly verses are just right for little ears. “Tippa tip tat / slinga finga bat / peas roll across the floor, / pounce goes the cat!” Classic dinner games such as choo-choo train, here-comes-the-bird, and the old-fashioned chin chopper are included, as well as a few new ones packed with toddler-pleasing silliness. Pons’s gleeful illustrations capture the loving fun of mother and child. Soft-hued watercolors feature the rabbit duo happily engaged in mealtime messiness. Human children will instantly recognize familiar minutiae of childhood in the young bunny’s house, from the wooden highchair to the lidded sippy cup. The sprightly pace, combined with Pons’s oversized, cleanly drawn illustrations make this an ideal read-aloud for the toddler and preschool set. Whether or not they will actually consume their meals as a result of this rambunctious tale remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Van Laan’s culinary escapade is sure to leave them smiling. (Picture book. 1-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83143-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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