A guiding star of hope to readers who have lost a loved one and a stellar map that values Indigenous knowledge.

THE FOREVER SKY

Two young boys observing the night sky remember their relatives who have passed away.

After grandmother Nooko’s passing, Uncle tells stories to Niigaanii that help explain where she has gone in the hope that he will “feel less sad.” While watching the sky one fall evening, Niigaanii shares some of these lessons with his younger brother, Bineshiinh, the most important of which is that Nooko’s spirit lives on in the stars. As the boys continue to gaze at the “Forever Sky,” they see “the stars form shapes”—constellations significant to Ojibwe people—and they see the Milky Way, or the Path of Souls, that leads to the spirit world. But the dancing lights they encounter on a “very special night” bring an even better surprise. Peacock (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe Ojibwe) spins prose that feels both traditional and contemporary, providing a mirror for Indigenous readers raised among similar stories. Yet those unfamiliar with the Ojibwe cosmos will connect as well. Although rendered in a style all her own, astrophysicist/artist Lee’s (Lakota-Sioux) colorful, richly detailed illustrations recall the X-ray pictograph inspirations, elongated figures, and genre-content popularized by other Native American/First Nations painters. Astute readers will also notice the young brothers appear to wear shorts in some of the images, reinforcing present-day significance.

A guiding star of hope to readers who have lost a loved one and a stellar map that values Indigenous knowledge. (glossary) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68134-098-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

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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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Cute but not substantive, and the wording may be off-putting.

YOU MAKE ME HAPPY

Fox and Porcupine celebrate the many ways they enjoy each other.

“You make me happy, / like birds taking flight, / like a waterfall twinkling, / like morning’s first light. // The things that you do, and the things that you say, / fill me with sunshine and brighten my day.” Throughout the seasons, readers are treated to a look at all the lovely times the duo have. Even when the text hints that one is feeling down and the other is cheering them on, the acrylic-paint–and–colored-pencil artwork shows both feeling glad, demanding that readers guess which might have been sad. That’s not the only thing readers will have to guess either. It’s unclear whether this relationship is friendly, romantic, or familial; at times the text and illustrations make it seem as though it could be any of these. And the first-person narrator is also never identified. The idea is certainly sweet, the roly-poly pair are delightfully expressive and adorable, and the sentiments expressed are those caregivers appreciate and celebrate in their children. Still, the wording may cause adults to cringe, especially those trained in psychology and like subjects that emphasize that confidence and well-being do not rest on externalities: “You make me happy and hopeful and strong.”

Cute but not substantive, and the wording may be off-putting. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-849-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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