An utterly charming Asian twist to a familiar tune.


A young Chinese family enjoys a visit to their grandparents’ house.

Modeled after “The Wheels on the Bus,” the narrative opens with, “When my family gets together we laugh and sing, / laugh and sing, laugh and sing.” The grandparents along with their small white dog give a warm welcome to their extended family. The four grandchildren are two grade schoolers, a tutu-wearing toddler, and a baby. The dinner table is stacked with bamboo steamers and numerous dishes, with a lazy susan in the center. As the story progresses, each family member is addressed in Chinese and associated with a traditional dish. “Nai Nai drinks her tea with a hoo, hoo, hoo” (the kids’ grandmother is evidently blowing on the hot liquid); “Ye Ye eats noodles going slurp, slurp, slurp” (the grandfather slurps a comically long noodle); and “Ba Ba takes a pancake to roll up the duck” (the dad happily munches Peking duck). The repetitive stanzas and delectable onomatopoeia establish a rhythmic pace that irresistibly begs for participation. Tu’s illustrations elevate the joyful tone with brightly colored cartoons filled with textures and lively details. Shang follows up with a detailed glossary explaining food, family titles, and dining etiquette. The explanations are thorough, accompanied by characters in both Traditional and Simplified Chinese and Romanized spellings. This deceptively simple story artfully brings an authentic expression of family love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 90.3% of actual size.)

An utterly charming Asian twist to a familiar tune. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-62119-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


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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Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones.


As the day draws to a close, a parent bear recalls those events shared with their child that gratified them, from observing hatching nestlings to the stars that come out at bedtime.

The scansion works and the emotions expressed are sweet, but that’s the limit of this book’s achievement. Mason is unable to create a coherent visual narrative that explicates and expands on the nonsensical text, which opens and closes with a parental address to “my fuzzy one” but in between is unclear as to who is expressing the syrupy sentiments. The sequence of sentence fragments “For special friends who made me giggle / and silly songs that made me wiggle. // For space to play, for shade to rest, / for secret spots we love the best” is illustrated in two double-page spreads with images of the young bear first playing with a young raccoon and second intently observing a caterpillar. Although that implies the young bear is speaking, the iteration of the refrain that ungrammatically brings the sequence to a close—“That’s what made me happy”—seems to bring the narration back to the parent bear. But really, giving up on sense seems to be the best one can expect from a book with a title that inartfully co-opts an adjective as a noun.

Yet another celebrity picture book that will steal sales from far, far better ones. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288789-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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