For those familiar with Navajo traditions, Tahe’s knowledge and Nelson’s illustrations give enough of a Where’s Waldo breath...

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FIRST LAUGH—WELCOME, BABY!

In a “skyscraper home in the big, busy city” and amid the high desert mesas of the “Navajo Nation,” family members attempt to make Baby laugh for the first time. 

Published posthumously with co-author Flood, Tahe’s (Diné) debut picture book begins with four family members “watching, tickling, smiling [at]” a sleeping baby, wondering when they will hear the first laugh. Though the text itself lacks cultural identification in the first few pages, debut illustrator Nelson’s (Diné) illustration supplies it, as two characters wear stylized hair buns on the nape to suggest a Navajo family. Before shifting to a rural setting on the Navajo Nation five pages later, the story continues in an urban environment with Grandmother tucking Baby in for a nap. For readers acquainted with Navajo culture, textual details such as “Pendleton blanket” and Nelson’s visual cues, including Grandmother’s turquoise pendant and a woven rug hanging on the wall, provide familiar touchstones. The remainder of the story sees all family members doing what they can to make Baby laugh. In Navajo tradition, families celebrate a baby’s first laugh. Though an expository endnote on this and other new-baby celebrations indicates, “The person who succeeds…has the honor of hosting the First Laugh Ceremony,” readers never fully feel that build of anticipation. Readers who note contrived moments of exposition and the romantic Native nostalgia reminiscent of Flood’s other works might feel duped by the reverse alphabetical authorial billing.

For those familiar with Navajo traditions, Tahe’s knowledge and Nelson’s illustrations give enough of a Where’s Waldo breath of cultural clues to balance the scale and justify the buy. (authors’ notes, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-794-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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 good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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