This playfully mischievous ode to sibling solidarity is sure to inspire similar nocturnal escapades among readers.

THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

The shadowy blanket of midnight provides the perfect cover for two sisters to enjoy a clandestine adventure.

Awake with anticipation, Milly is eager for her first nighttime jaunt with the Midnight Club. At exactly midnight, she wakes up her big sister, Becca, and the pair proceeds to slink, sneak, and creep through the darkened hallways and empty rooms of their home. The late hour transforms the house into an inky blue playground splashed with pools of candescent yellow light. Milly and Becca revel in the liberation that comes with sleeping parents as they indulge in Dad’s jelly beans and play dress-up in Mom’s raincoat. The tender bond between sisters is evident in their conspiratorial glee during their covert shenanigans and their reliance on each other during tenser moments. Satisfied and sleepy, they nestle together in bed, resting up for tomorrow’s Midnight Club meeting. This charming story perfectly balances the thrill of pushing boundaries with the comfort of having your best friend along for the ride. The succinct text is made for hushed whispers and conveys the intimacy of shared secrets. Watercolors perfectly capture the hazy, dreamlike atmosphere of the sleeping house, while a spectrum of deep indigo, dusky purples, and cozy yellows highlights the contrast between dark and light. Becca and Milly have olive skin and black hair.

This playfully mischievous ode to sibling solidarity is sure to inspire similar nocturnal escapades among readers. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-394-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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