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The parents’ certainty that their baby is “the best of all of us” is an affirmation every baby should hear.

In words and pictures, a pair of parents celebrates their little one.

As they did in Little You (2013), Canadian First Nations creators Van Camp (Tlicho Dene) and Flett (Cree-Métis) combine talents for a sweet and loving board book. The parents address their child as a unit, with first-person plural, using cadence and metaphor to convey their feelings. “We sang you from a wish / We sang you from a prayer.” Few very young children will understand the concepts behind that sentiment, but they should understand “We give you kisses to help you grow” without much trouble. Van Camp’s text turns to the reciprocal relationship between parents and child (“As we give you roots you give us wings // And through you we are born again”) as Flett’s crisp, digitally collaged gouache paintings depict, first, a ponytailed parent cuddling the child with one hand while picking berries with the other, then both parents together holding the child at a window as a bird flies by. Both parents are depicted with brown skin and black hair, as is the child; gender is implied visually via hairstyle but never confirmed in the text. Simple visual details also imply the little family’s heritage—striped blankets, baby slings—but do not restrict it.

The parents’ certainty that their baby is “the best of all of us” is an affirmation every baby should hear. (Board book. 3 mos.-2)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1178-2

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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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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