Love makes a family, but this may not be the best book to demonstrate this truism.

READ REVIEW

WHEN I GROW UP

A duckling wants to be just like his porcine parents when he grows up.

When their anthropomorphic alligator teacher asks them to share “Who do you want to be like when you grow up?” animal children voice admiration for same-species parents. Martin the fawn wants to have antlers so he “can be as handsome as Dad”; little zebra Ema wants her legs to be like her father’s so she “can run around the meadow”; and an elephant calf wants a trunk like his grandpa’s to help him cool down. Johnny the duckling looks worried when the teacher prompts him to respond, and a sequence of double-page spreads reveals the reason for his hesitation: his parents are not ducks but pigs, and he doesn’t have their physical attributes. But he comes up with several ways that he is like his parents, providing credence to the nurture side of the nurture/nature equation in child-rearing. Many will regard this book as a nod to inclusivity of human adoptive families and perhaps particularly transracial ones—but it’s an uneasy metaphor that uses different species to represent different races, and it’s not as though there’s a surfeit of books about human transracial adoption. Closing illustrations of the children’s family portraits reveal a two-daddy lion family and the elephant calf with his grandparents instead of parents.

Love makes a family, but this may not be the best book to demonstrate this truism. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4236-4689-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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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