Excellent use of scale and texture capture a child’s out-of-control emotions

COME HOME, ANGUS

Angry without knowing why, a boy stomps away from his house and neighborhood.

One day, Angus wakes up angry. Pink-skinned, blue-eyed, and way too big for his bed, Angus scowls with off-kilter eyebrows. The room tips diagonally, and the dresser’s upside-down as if planted on the ceiling. Angus’ anger is so big, it’s distorting his physical world. Enormous with anger, he bleeds off the page. He can’t bear his mother’s admonition against rudeness, so he leaves. One stride covers a whole block of his neighborhood. But as this giant nears the city’s center, he begins to shrink. Among the city’s skyscrapers, Angus is kid-sized and vulnerable, a visual bright spot in a murky-colored, jam-packed city that readers see from a tiny-child vantage point. Gray crosshatchings that covered Angus’ skin and clothing when he was angry at home have fallen off him, now covering adults who loom everywhere, ominous because they’re strangers. A woman supposedly “smiles,” but the illustration shows no smile; instead, food hangs from the fat woman’s mouth, and she appears grotesque and frightening. Towering buildings are patterned and slanted. Kulikov uses acrylic washes, pencil, pen, ink, oil pastel, and black-tea wash to full emotional effect. The city is “busier, noisier, wider, darker” than home—but Angus may be less alone than he thinks.

Excellent use of scale and texture capture a child’s out-of-control emotions . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-59768-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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