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A sweet picture book about forming family ties across oceans.

Sejal, her mother, and her grandmother are planning a trip to Kanyakumari, a city at the southernmost edge of India, where “three oceans meet.”

Sejal and Mommy live in the United States and Pati in Bangalore, so while Sejal has a lot in common with her grandmother, they are also very different. When they are packing for their trip, for example, Sejal packs shorts and T-shirts while her grandmother packs 9-yard saris typical of southern Brahmin households. Sejal speaks mostly English while her grandmother speaks a mix of English, Tamil, and Kannada. On their way to Kanyakumari, Sejal and her family get to experience iconic cities in Tamil Nadu. In the coastal city of Chennai, they eat dosa. In Coimbatore, they visit relatives over tea. In Madurai, they visit one of southern India’s most famous Hindu temples. In between these cities, they stop to sip tender coconut, shop at a typical market, and gaze at the countryside from the windows of a train. These sights are all realized in Sreenivasan’s sunny, affectionate illustrations, and they appear again on a closing map that traces the journey. Finally, they reach Kanyakumari, where they witness three oceans coming together just like three generations of their family. The book’s text is a celebration of intergenerational, border-crossing love, and the analogy between the three oceans and the three female protagonists works well. 

A sweet picture book about forming family ties across oceans. (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4129-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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