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BINDU'S BINDIS

A beautiful intergenerational tale about the importance of embracing the parts of ourselves that others may find strange.

Bindu loves bindis, the adornments that some South Asians wear on their foreheads for religious or cosmetic purposes.

Bindu’s bindis are particularly special to her because they’re from her grandmother: Every month, her nani sends her a new packet all the way from India, and her delight emanates from every brightly hued page. But when Nani comes to visit, xenophobic White protestors at the airport make Bindu and her family feel scared and out of place, and Bindu briefly questions whether she ought to wear a bindi at all. The feeling returns a few days later, when Bindu must perform a dance onstage at school. In the moment when she experiences stage fright, Bindu isn’t sure if her bindi gives her strength or makes her different—too different for her classmates. With a little bit of courage—and some help from Nani—Bindu gets up on stage and, in the process, remembers why she loves bindis. Bindu is a delightful protagonist whose emotional ups and downs are both familiar-feeling and fun to read about. Bindu’s likability makes it slightly disappointing that it’s Nani and not feisty, resourceful Bindu herself who ultimately resolves the book’s main conflict. Nevertheless, the ending is both realistic and uplifting, tying together a storyline that strikes an expert balance between drama and humor. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.9-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.3% of actual size.) (Editor's note: This review has been updated to provide a more accurate description of a bindi.)

A beautiful intergenerational tale about the importance of embracing the parts of ourselves that others may find strange. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4020-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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