The accomplished art, however, does not compensate for the story’s lack of suspense, humor, or lyricism.

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THE LITTLE GOLDEN KEY

This Spanish import presents the day that three mice find a key and speculate on what it might unlock.

When the Mouse brothers emerge from their cheese-shaped house in the forest, each has a different idea about how to spend their Saturday. The oldest wants to pick apples, the middle one prefers poppies, and the youngest wants “that little piece of the sun that’s fallen onto the ground!” Realizing the “little piece of sun” is really a key, the siblings imagine opening a pirate chest or a castle door, but the smallest mouse decides “it must be the key to happiness!” Since the mice don’t know how to find the happiness it unlocks, they go home to consult their mother and discover her searching for this very object. Connecting the themes of their play, they posit that their dwelling holds treasure, compares to a castle, and is filled with joy. The story suffers from a trite ending, predictable plot, and (for the most part) pedestrian language: “It’s a very old key; I’m sure it opens the door of an old castle!” The illustrations, which appear to be digital, are stronger. Padrón’s close-ups are so revealing that readers can view tiny mouse hair in the profiles. He creates a successful depth of field with mist-shrouded trees in the background and warm, textured images in the foreground.

The accomplished art, however, does not compensate for the story’s lack of suspense, humor, or lyricism. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-84-16078-78-3

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones.

YOU ARE MY HAPPY

As the day draws to a close, a parent bear recalls those events shared with their child that gratified them, from observing hatching nestlings to the stars that come out at bedtime.

The scansion works and the emotions expressed are sweet, but that’s the limit of this book’s achievement. Mason is unable to create a coherent visual narrative that explicates and expands on the nonsensical text, which opens and closes with a parental address to “my fuzzy one” but in between is unclear as to who is expressing the syrupy sentiments. The sequence of sentence fragments “For special friends who made me giggle / and silly songs that made me wiggle. // For space to play, for shade to rest, / for secret spots we love the best” is illustrated in two double-page spreads with images of the young bear first playing with a young raccoon and second intently observing a caterpillar. Although that implies the young bear is speaking, the iteration of the refrain that ungrammatically brings the sequence to a close—“That’s what made me happy”—seems to bring the narration back to the parent bear. But really, giving up on sense seems to be the best one can expect from a book with a title that inartfully co-opts an adjective as a noun.

Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288789-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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