A laudably candid effort, unafraid to treat its readership with the utmost respect.

THE VERY TINY BABY

Just because a book fills a need, that doesn’t guarantee its quality; fortunately, this book both addresses premature birth and succeeds marvelously.

Like any big brother–to-be, Jacob is conflicted when he hears about his family’s upcoming arrival. Sure, he’s excited, but teddy bear Bob, clearly Jacob’s externalized id, is unafraid to bring up potential problems. Bob’s worries are utterly forgotten, however, when the infant arrives far too early, and the grown-ups’ fear communicates itself to Jacob. As time wears on, Jacob feels abandoned; all his parents and grandmother think about is their preemie. Reminiscent of the straightforward honesty of a Robie H. Harris title, the storyline doesn’t coddle readers but acknowledges feelings, both good and bad. From conversations about what’s going to happen (“Is the baby going to die? Grandma didn’t know”) to anger toward the baby itself (a black page contains just an image of Jacob and the words “I wish the baby would die”), Kantorovitz draws on personal experience to give a rounded view of the situation. Images are laid out like snapshots in a family album, drawn in the faux-naif style of Jacob himself, and his childlike narration is printed in a typeface that emulates a child’s handwriting. This filter helps to blunt the potential horror even as it honors Jacob’s emotions and experiences.

A laudably candid effort, unafraid to treat its readership with the utmost respect. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58089-445-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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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Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby.

BABY GOES TO MARKET

Baby is so charming that various vendors in this West African market gift him all sorts of yummies.

Baby rides on Mama’s back, held snug by a bright cloth wrap. Mama navigates the busy, colorful outdoor market, her woven basket balanced on her head. The text unrolls rhythmically in Atinuke’s storyteller’s voice: “Market is very crowded. Baby is very curious. Baby is so curious that Mrs. Ade, the banana seller, gives Baby six bananas.” Baby eats one and puts the remaining bananas in Mama’s basket. All the while Mama shops, unbeknownst to her, vendors continue to respond to Baby’s transparent delight with five oranges, four “sugary chin-chin biscuits,” three “roasted sweet corn,” and two pieces of coconut. With each delicacy given, Baby eats one and puts the rest in the basket. When Mama sees all the extra foodstuffs she didn’t buy, she’s concerned, until the vendors reassure her: “We gave those things to Baby!” In her debut picture book, Brooksbank offers bright, bustling tableaux of shoppers, vendors, and goods. The smiling, all-black cast sort through myriad wares, while the text keeps up its rhythm, introducing both typical items bought in a West African market and a gentle lesson in arithmetic as Baby alternately snacks on and stashes his gifts.

Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9570-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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