A warm, welcome reminder that everyone is excellent at something

EXCELLENT ED

Ed, the Ellis family dog, has many talents, but none of them matches the excellence of the five Ellis children’s—or so he thinks.

Ed longs for a place at the family table, in the van, and on the couch, if only he can think of something that he excels at. But from soccer and ballet to math and baking, Elaine, Edith, Ernie, and twins Emily and Elmer outdo Ed at things that seem the most important (and delightfully counter to gender-stereotypical fashion). Endpapers show Ed twirling and rolling across the title page and into the story, where he’s maneuvered himself right out of the striped sweater he’s been dressed in. He sits wagging his tail at the feet of all five of the Ellis kids, their affection for one another and for their dog obvious. There is a lot of humor in the illustrations and wordplay that children will delight in. Ed imagines that he might be best at “breaking stuff,” till Elaine comes along boasting of a broken record, for instance. A frustrated Ed finally feels noticed for the talents that only he has: cleaning the floor when food is spilled and giving a warm doggy welcome when the family comes home. Rounded, loose lines and vivid splashes of color in acrylics, watercolor, crayon, and grease pencil make for a cheery depiction of life in a middle-class African-American household.

A warm, welcome reminder that everyone is excellent at something . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51023-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

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THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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