Pass on this muddled effort.

STAY CLOSE TO MAMA

A young giraffe repeatedly lands in dangerous situations when his curiosity gets the best of him.

Concerned mama giraffe knows many threats exist on the African savanna, but her little Twiga ("giraffe" in Swahili) “is so curious.” The “tall, tall mama…leans close and whispers a warning, / No, little Twiga. Stay close, stay safe.” Twiga’s keen senses prove irresistible. He hears music in a thorny tree, sees sparkly water and smells the delicious fruit of the sausage tree. Each time he approaches the attractive object, a predator or serious discomfort—hyena, stinging ants, crocodile, cheetah—looms near. The clueless Twiga always manages to move onto the next pursuit just in time. Mama giraffe is often shown in the background looking worried. But Twiga, other than in the moment the ants crawl onto his nose, never learns the important lesson that being careful will surely save his life. Somehow all is forgiven after Twiga grabs the sweet fruit and returns to his mama…at least until the next time. Overall there are many elements that seem off: the contradictory message, the sometimes-precious tone of the text and the disconnect between the textual description of the setting and what is shown in Wohnoutka’s illustrations. The text describes “tall brown grass” and a “dusty plain,” but the full-bleed spreads show mostly lush green landscapes dotted with flowers.

Pass on this muddled effort. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3482-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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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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Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents.

TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU

A poetic ode to women who became mothers despite the challenges they faced.

Whether navigating the roughest seas, crossing the hottest deserts, or pushing through painful brambles, the mothers in this book know their long, hard journeys were worth the effort. There might have been failure and doubt, but now that it’s all over, they know they’d “do it all over again. For you.” First-person narration expresses in metaphor the extraordinary lengths some mothers will go to achieve their dream of holding a child in their arms. Sentimental and flowery, the text is broad enough to apply to the journeys of many mothers—even though the text is gender neutral, the illustrations clearly center the mother’s experience. At times another figure, often male-presenting, is shown alongside a mother. Soft, jewel-toned illustrations peppered with textures depict families with a variety of skin tones and hair colors/textures. The assortment of mothers shown demonstrates the universality of the message, but it also contributes to the absence of a strong visual throughline. In the concluding author’s note, Serhant shares her personal struggle to conceive her child, which included fertility treatments and IVF. Ultimately, although the sentiment is lovely, the message is too abstract to be understood by children and will be better received and appreciated by parents.

Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17388-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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