Delightful—and not the least bit troublesome.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

Twins go in search of trouble—and find it!

The text doesn’t assign Ellis and Erin pronouns but does identify them as twins. The siblings have light-brown skin, and Ellis wears glasses and has short, curly, dark hair; Erin’s hair is the same color but straighter and longer. These differences in appearance will help readers keep the twins straight as they cause playful chaos in their search for “trouble.” To no avail, they “rummage through the bags and boxes in the garage” and look for “trouble” at the bottom of trash bins and up a big tree. Splashing in a mud puddle brings glee and perhaps an assumption on readers’ parts that this muddy mess is, at last, where the twins “find trouble.” But they continue their search only to dejectedly go inside, “disappointed they couldn’t find trouble.” Dyer’s bright, lively collage art shows the children, dirty and disheveled, tracking mud and detritus into the house, which may again prompt readers to shake their heads knowingly—clearly these children have found trouble, whether they think so or not. But a twist ending, textually reliant on an avoidance of capitalizing Trouble as a proper noun in prior pages, reveals that Trouble is the name of the children’s cat. They find her in a satisfying culmination of their (perhaps) inadvertently mischievous search.

Delightful—and not the least bit troublesome. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84976-659-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tate/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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DONOVAN'S BIG DAY

It may be his mothers’ wedding day, but it’s Donovan’s big day in Newman’s (Heather Has Two Mommies, 1989, etc.) latest picture book about queer family life. Centered on the child’s experience and refreshingly eschewing reference to controversy, the book emerges as a celebration of not only Mommy’s and Mama’s mutual love but progress toward equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Readers, however, don't know immediately know why it is “a very BIG day” for Donovan or what the “very BIG job” is that he has to do. In his affectionate, humorous gouache paintings with digital finish, Dutton cleverly includes clues in the form of family pictures in an earlier spread set inside their home, and then a later spread shows Donovan in a suit and placing a “little white satin box that Aunt Jennifer gave him” into his pocket, hinting toward his role as ring bearer. But it’s not until the third-to-last spread that he stands with his parents and hands “one shiny gold ring to Mommy [and] one shiny gold ring to Mama.” He, of course, gets to kiss the brides on the last page, lending a happily-ever-after sensibility to the end of this story about a family's new beginning. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-332-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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