It follows, perhaps, that the best picture books are those, like this, that beg to be shared, as well.

STORM

Fun for a boy and his grandfather blows in on the winds of a brewing storm.

The fourth in this series of picture books about a boy and his grandfather (Sun, 2018, etc.) once again finds them outside enjoying nature, inspired this time to fly a kite in the blustery wind. Before they head outdoors, they must search the house to find a kite, however. In their searching they come across several things that remind them of prior adventures. This trip down Memory Lane establishes a foundation for their fun flying the kite, which gently tips the story into the realm of fantasy when they and other kite-fliers are lifted into a sky filled with kites of varied colors, patterns, and forms. “We swooped and flew. But then I let go!” exclaims the young narrator at the story’s climax. Luckily, Granddad saves the kite, and then they sail back home on the wind before the storm descends. Throughout, Usher’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations adopt a style similar to Quentin Blake’s, and his shifting use of color, light, and shadow evokes excitement, peril, and finally the safety and security of the kitchen with the storm raging outside. It’s a gentle home-away-home story tied up with a cozy message delivered by Granddad at the end: “The best adventure is an adventure shared.” Both characters present white.

It follows, perhaps, that the best picture books are those, like this, that beg to be shared, as well. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0282-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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