CLEMENTINE AND MUNGO

An imaginative older sister answers her brother’s questions about the nature of things. A deep enough hole will reach the center of the earth, a cat can unzip its fur so that it doesn’t overheat in the summer, and a dragon lives in the pipes of your home to heat the water for bath time. Clementine is not even stumped when Mungo asks why some leaves are red and some green. The answer: “Tiny painting pig-ments,” depicted as pigs in the lone attempt at humor. As readers follow the pair through their day, more and more imaginative answers spring forth from Clementine’s vast store of wisdom. But at bedtime, it’s Mungo who provides the most important answer of all: “At night, when it gets very dark, why don’t you get scared, Mungo?” “ . . . because I know you are always there for me, Clementine.” The right illustrations might have pulled off the storyline, but Dyer’s simplistic illustrations are reminiscent of grade-school colored-pencil drawings. They will not capture the attention of young readers, especially since the siblings lack expressive faces. This is one to miss. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-58234-883-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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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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JAZZ BABY

A snappy rhyming text celebrates an extended family’s joyous gyrations to the jazz spinning on the turntable. From waking to sleep, Baby’s right in the thick of it, as siblings, grandparents and cousins move and groove: “So they BOOM-BOOM-BOOM / and they HIP-HIP-HOP / and the bouncin’ baby boogies with a BOP-BOP-BOP.” Wheeler’s verse scans beautifully and begs to be read aloud—danced to, even—making this a fine choice for preschool and kindergarten story times. Christie’s bold, double-paged gouache compositions locate this colorfully garbed, expressively hip family within an equally vibrant community. As Baby’s big dark eyes get glassy with fatigue, the party winds down. “Daddy sings blues. / Mama sings sweet. / While that snoozy-woozy baby . . . / . . . sleeps deep, deep, deep.” Exultant and infectious, from the red-and-yellow-striped endpapers to the final “OH YEAH!” (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-202522-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2007

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