It’s sweet, but it lacks the freshness that would make it stand out.

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SILLY WONDERFUL YOU

A mother’s rhymes enumerate the many, varied (sometimes bewildering, sometimes beatific) ways her toddler tot has altered her life.

Looking back she wonders at how she never knew, “that our house could get this messy and LOUD! / Or that you’d be so silly, and giggly, and splashy, and CRASHY!” Bold, oversized lettering emphasizes already extremely effective onomatopoeic language that runs throughout, demonstrating how sounds resonate and dominate in a toddler’s home. McDonnell’s reliably astute ink, brush, and pen illustrations punctuate these rhymes with spirited freeze frames of mother’s mishaps (tub water in the eye, a block underfoot) and gleeful moments of surprise (unexpected fairy wings, glittery artwork, park frolics). Mommy’s red-rosebud mouth gapes, her eyes widen to oversized ovals, and miraculously her buttercup-blonde flip hairdo never changes shape! While perhaps a nod to the timelessness of a mother’s experience with her first baby, the mid-20th-century motif (down to mother’s black cigarette pants and white oxford shirt) and simple, straightforward rhymes leave this picture book feeling dated. One senses that just beyond the washes of gentle blues, pinks, and yellows that fill the background of each spread, just beyond the gauzy ether that spotlights these two familiar cartoonish caricatures, modern mothering scenes tell the same story, sharply, with poignancy—and through a whole spectrum of colors and faces.

It’s sweet, but it lacks the freshness that would make it stand out. (Picture book. 2-4) 

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-227105-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A must-read for mothers of young children (and their kids, too).

MAMA NEEDS A MINUTE

The story shows all of the ways a mother loves and cares for her children while also needing to take care of herself.

Sloan writes what mothers feel: “This mama needs a minute.” There are books that prepare children for their first day of school, potty training, siblings, and many of life’s earliest milestones. In that tradition, Sloan’s book shows kids how mothers can both love and care for them and also need a little space. She writes, “It doesn’t mean I love you less. Sometimes it just means Mama needs to get dressed.” Truer words have never been written. Sloan simultaneously affirms a mother’s love while also deftly explaining that it’s OK for love to need boundaries—for parents, yes, but also for kids. The comics-style illustrations hit home, like the stubble-legged mama trying to snag a minute to shower. This goes beyond ringing chords with adult readers; it also provides concrete examples of when mama needs that minute. The palette includes pinks, greens, and bright blues, and all of the characters have skin of many nonhuman colors; hair is likewise fancifully colored but always straight. Many of the moms have visible tattoos, a refreshingly realistic detail.

A must-read for mothers of young children (and their kids, too). (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5248-5457-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Andrews McMeel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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