Vibrant, vigorous, and multifaceted—just like America.

I IS FOR IMMIGRANTS

An alphabet book that celebrates everything that immigrants have brought to the United States, from ambition to Zen.

Each letter of this exuberant and poignant alphabet book is represented by a montage of words and images that include feelings, ideas, and things that people from all over the world have brought with them to their new home. D is for Dreamers (and dreamers), dumplings, diversity, and Day of the Dead. H is for holidays, heritage, hijabs, Holi, Hanukkah, and hope. Y is for yucca, yoga, yogurt, Yiddish, yearning—and “you.” By including both the tangible and the intangible, Alko reinforces the idea that the U.S. is more than just a conglomeration of cultures; it’s a quilt of shared values. The text is hand-lettered in varying sizes, incorporated into the overall compositions, and the accompanying images are painted and collaged with verve, emphasizing a folk-art–like artistic sensibility with saturated colors, bold brush strokes, and found objects. In the concluding author’s note, Alko shares her own immigration story and reiterates that “America isn’t any one thing”—that it is both magnificent and complex. Readers from all backgrounds with have a blast looking for references to their own heritages and finding commonalities. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Vibrant, vigorous, and multifaceted—just like America. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23786-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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