Nelly learns she can try new things when she’s buoyed by her family’s support in this thoroughly reassuring outing.

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NO SWIMMING FOR NELLY

Three generations of women bond over swimming lessons for little piglet Nelly.

Nelly loves the new swimsuit Mommy gives her—for biking, playing basketball, even sleeping, but not swimming. Why not? The water at the beach is cold; Nelly doesn’t like the waves; the water is scary. Mommy knows exactly what Nelly needs: lessons with champion swimmer Grandma. Expressive pen-and-ink lines capture every emotion in the characters’ faces, and warm tones highlight the love among them. Even their body language as they curve toward one another demonstrates their closeness. That they are anthropomorphized pigs just makes it more appealing and sweetly comical. Grandma is a patient teacher, and her tricks are ones that parents everywhere can use. Nelly blows bubbles and learns to float, kick, and move her arms. Fluid watercolor washes suit the watery setting and all the motion, while illustrations that vary from double-page spread to vignette set the pace. When Mommy calls them in for dinner, Nelly wants to keep swimming. Imagine!

Nelly learns she can try new things when she’s buoyed by her family’s support in this thoroughly reassuring outing. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3780-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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