The message appears to be the treats are best when shared, which makes Red Panda’s attempt at entrepreneurship all the odder.

RED PANDA'S CANDY APPLES

Who can resist candy apples? Not Red Panda.

The animals from Hedgehog’s Magic Tricks (2013) return for a new adventure, this time featuring Red Panda. He’s selling candy apples that he made himself. Rabbit is his first customer, but Red Panda is sad to give the apple to him as he realizes he’d rather eat it himself. Selling candy apples is not as much fun as eating them, it seems. Hedgehog is next, choosing Red Panda’s favorite. Mouse is next. With his coin jar filling up, Red Panda treats himself. “Lick, crackle, crunch.” Now only one candy apple is left for sale, but Duckling and Bushbaby each want one. Luckily, Red Panda has stashed another one for himself, so everybody gets an apple. In a real breach of the author-reader contract, this last apple appears only when Paul needs it. Although red pandas and bushbabies are likely to be new to most North American children, they likely won’t care, as details in the illustrations flavor the story. Reddish crumbs are stuck on whiskers, and animal friends are dressed in clothing, with the white mouse in a pink tutu and Red Panda in red plaid pants. Despite the sweet flair of the pencil-and-digital artwork, though, the story doesn’t have much bite to it.

The message appears to be the treats are best when shared, which makes Red Panda’s attempt at entrepreneurship all the odder. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6758-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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Aspirational—but not quite ascending to the inspirational.

MY VOICE IS A TRUMPET

Explores different ways one’s voice can be used.

The unidentified narrator begins by chronicling different types of voices: “loud and proud,” “soft and sweet,” “patient and wise,” and more. The Deaf community is included in both text and art, and sign language is alluded to: “There’s a voice that is silent / but STILL CAN BE HEARD / with hands that move / to speak EVERY word.” The vibrant, colorful art presents an array of children of different races and skin tones. Unfortunately, this well-meaning book does not cohere. The art in some spreads does not appear to augment or even connect to the text. For example, the lines “I’LL SAY NO TO HATE / by using this voice / and ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE— / a magical choice” are illustrated with a spread of four children: one playing the trumpet, another singing, one with a drum major’s hat and baton, and the final child skateboarding. Readers may be confused by how these images apply to the text since they have no direct relation to saying no to hate or choosing love. Spreads with children holding protest signs feel disconnected to the present moment with no Black Lives Matter or BLM–related signs depicted. Some text excludes nonbinary children, asserting “we’re SISTERS / and BROTHERS.”

Aspirational—but not quite ascending to the inspirational. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35218-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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