Seek out more successful funny tales of fathers and sons, such as Ethan Long’s My Dad, My Hero (2010) and Liz Rosenberg’s...

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ME AND MY DAD

In this average offering, a boy, his dad and their small dog spend a day at the beach.

Morgan and Kwaymullina’s spare text recounts the many things they contend with and encounter. Dad is fearlessly brave (but more often clueless to the danger) as he survives turning his back on a colossal ocean wave, swimming in a sea full of jellyfish and threatening a couple of menacing sharks. Sunny blues and yellows dominate the palette. Ottley’s illustrations provide the real story as he plays with perspective and exaggerates scale to accentuate the cartoonish tone. On one spread, dad’s comically oversized foot ably steps over super-sharp thornlike shells, and on another a villainous crab with an impossibly huge claw attempts to steal lunch. The unlikely creatures that dad seems to have a true fear of are the ones that the boy enthusiastically chases away. Preschool readers will identify with the fun of scaring off squawking seagulls and enjoy the boy’s role as hero. A troubling oddity, though—the father’s physical characteristics seem altered on the next-to-the-last spread. Through most of the book, he is decidedly dark-skinned and looks vaguely aboriginal (this is an Australian import); in that penultimate picture, his skin tone appears lighter, and the facial features are different.

Seek out more successful funny tales of fathers and sons, such as Ethan Long’s My Dad, My Hero (2010) and Liz Rosenberg’s Tyrannosaurus Dad, illustrated by Matthew Myers (2010) . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-921541-81-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Hare/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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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Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents.

TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU

A poetic ode to women who became mothers despite the challenges they faced.

Whether navigating the roughest seas, crossing the hottest deserts, or pushing through painful brambles, the mothers in this book know their long, hard journeys were worth the effort. There might have been failure and doubt, but now that it’s all over, they know they’d “do it all over again. For you.” First-person narration expresses in metaphor the extraordinary lengths some mothers will go to achieve their dream of holding a child in their arms. Sentimental and flowery, the text is broad enough to apply to the journeys of many mothers—even though the text is gender neutral, the illustrations clearly center the mother’s experience. At times another figure, often male-presenting, is shown alongside a mother. Soft, jewel-toned illustrations peppered with textures depict families with a variety of skin tones and hair colors/textures. The assortment of mothers shown demonstrates the universality of the message, but it also contributes to the absence of a strong visual throughline. In the concluding author’s note, Serhant shares her personal struggle to conceive her child, which included fertility treatments and IVF. Ultimately, although the sentiment is lovely, the message is too abstract to be understood by children and will be better received and appreciated by parents.

Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17388-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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