This could be a conversation starter about the manifestation of love between an adult-child reading pair…once they’ve parsed...

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT YOU

Farrington’s picture-book debut looks at all the things an adult caregiver loves about a child.

“I love when you / SMILE. // Right before you SING at the top of your lungs,” the narrator asserts. “I love when you’re CREATIVE. // Even when things get MESSY.” A caring adult loves holding hands but also loves when the child lets go to make a friend. The text may be similar to that found in numerous what-I-love-about-you books, but the mixed-media collages are distinctly unlike most in the genre. Photographs of found items, cut and digitally assembled, are placed on white backgrounds. Beautiful natural elements (vegetation, clouds, butterflies) stand out, especially the trees with teardrop-shaped leaves in rainbow hues. But the characters are something else. They may sport clothing and accessories and behave in human ways, but they are not at all human. Some are recognizable animals—a lion on a recumbent bike, for instance—but more are monsterlike creatures or hodgepodges of animal features; a yellow beast with a horselike snout, bug eyes, humanlike torso, and tiny arms and wings illustrates “getting messy,” for example. Readers may not know what to make of these sometimes-ugly beasts, which clash with the message delivered by the text, though they do nicely sidestep typical (and stereotypical) gender and racial depictions.

This could be a conversation starter about the manifestation of love between an adult-child reading pair…once they’ve parsed the attention-getting artwork. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239353-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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