High, sly entertainment for troublemakers and helpers alike.

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SPROUT HELPS OUT

Big sister Sprout happily takes on any domestic duty (babysitting, housecleaning, laundry, dishes), but she leaves merry mishaps and minor misbehaviors in her wake.

Ironic narration, primly positive and perky, allows playful pictures to reveal how much (or little) Sprout really helps around her house. She brushes her teeth without being reminded and then takes care of the forgetful dog’s teeth, for instance—with her mother’s toothbrush. She conscientiously does the laundry after getting dirty—but her baby sister needs to rescue the cat from the washing machine! Simple sentences imbued with wide-eyed innocence work alongside illustrations showing Sprout’s misguided household management to winning comedic effect. Winstead’s breezy pencil, gouache and watercolor illustrations suit Sprout’s comfortable household, with its charming wallpapers, art supplies and scattered toys. Her mother, an artist, paints peripherally; a cat, dog and fish swirl at Sprout’s side; drawings and notecards flutter on the walls and floor. Pale colors and white space convey the mellow vibe, which doesn’t seem shaken even by mud disasters, a flooded kitchen or broken lamps. Only her baby sister seems truly alarmed; mother appears in open-mouthed shock only once at the close of the book. One gets the sense somehow that she shouldn’t be that surprised, as Sprout seems the teensiest bit wise to the mischief she makes.

High, sly entertainment for troublemakers and helpers alike. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3072-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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 sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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