A gentle, appropriate answer to a perennial question.

READ REVIEW

THE BABY TREE

When a small boy learns a baby’s coming to his family, he wonders where it’s coming from.

In words and pictures, the unnamed narrator’s imagination builds a variety of possibilities from the pat responses to his query he gets from a teenage friend, a teacher, the mailman and his grandfather. Finally, he asks his parents. Their simple explanation about a seed, an egg and birth in a hospital helps him see that all the other answers (except for Grandpa’s story about the stork) were partially right. As she did in Are You Awake? (2011), Blackall captures the natures of children’s curiosity and family conversations. Her ink-and-watercolor illustrations include plenty of white space. They show the rosy-cheeked boy engaged in typical kid activities at home, at school and while visiting his grandfather. His question is not burning, but time passes and he gets more and more confused. (And his mother gets visibly pregnant.) The pacing is leisurely and the tone gently humorous, and the answer includes no anatomical details. Modern in its imagery (both parents have smartphones plugged in by the bed), this is just right for initiating a conversation with a 4- to 6-year-old child. A final page for parents covers less typical family situations: twins, adoption and single-sex couples.

A gentle, appropriate answer to a perennial question. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25718-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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