Playful bedtime treat for wee ones.

TELL ME WHAT TO DREAM ABOUT

When a little girl asks her older sister to tell her what to dream about, the big sister’s creative suggestions seem to fall on deaf ears.

Begging her big sister to help her fall asleep, a little girl proceeds to criticize and reject every dream idea the patient older sister offers. Dream about having waffles for breakfast? No way. How about dreaming about “teeny-tiny waffles with teeny-tiny animals?” Absolutely no little animals crawling on waffles. Dream she’s a giant with pockets full of “cute, furry pets” singing in “funny squeaky voices”? No furry pets singing in pockets. Nonplussed, the big sister suggests dreaming about living in a “furry world” or in a fluffy cloud world or in a treehouse town or in a tiny moss house under a tree, describing the joys of each. More rejects. Eventually, the older sister’s worn out, and they come full circle. Primitive, fantastical, surreal watercolor-and-ink illustrations that are reminiscent of Chagall visually contrast the older sister’s highly imaginative suggestions with her little sister’s persnickety perspective. While the pajama-clad sisters in adjacent beds appear in dim, nighttime blues, the dream images explode in boisterous color above their heads or onto double-page spreads, transporting readers from one fanciful scenario to the next.

Playful bedtime treat for wee ones. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37423-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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