A must-have celebration of cultural understanding and community—and the joy of family.

THE BIG BATH HOUSE

Family, community, body positivity, and a nice hot bath—ahhhhh!

A young international traveler with beige skin and straight dark hair eagerly greets her grandmother at Baachan’s home in Japan. Accompanied by gregarious aunties with “big stories and bigger purses,” she and Baachan visit the big bath house nearby and engage in a cultural, communal event: the Japanese bath. A soapy shower comes first so the women enter the bath clean. Then the girl joins all kinds of women—old and young, thin and fat—who are naked and thoroughly enjoying the hot water and female companionship. Together, the young girls dance while the women talk in this protected and private (yet public) space. Entering the pool, they all take “a chorus of one long breath. Ahhhhh.” Beautifully loose-lined and delicately colored illustrations depict vibrant, earth-toned scenes so soaked with conversation and interaction that, if readers lean close, they might be able to listen in. Various skin tones and body shapes and sizes celebrate a broad spectrum of body diversity. Rhythmic, occasionally rhyming second-person narration invites young readers into the rollicking fun of the bath-house experience. The girl and Baachan understand each other without saying a word—a powerful metaphor for how this book can serve as a cultural bridge between Western and Eastern sensibilities of privacy and body positivity. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A must-have celebration of cultural understanding and community—and the joy of family. (glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18195-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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