A funny and deceptively simple meditation on unconditional filial love

IS MOMMY?

A passel of tots discuss their moms' positive and negative aspects with uncontained glee.

"Is mommy tall... / or short?" an unseen narrator asks a crimson-haired tyke wearing a matching crimson dress with white polka dots. The child imagines "tall" (mommy leans down lovingly, about to pick up her dubious-looking daughter) and "short" (now the child looms over a suddenly shrunken, dismayed-looking mommy). With a turn of the page, a definitive, spread-dominating speech bubble declares, "Short!" Other child-and-mommy pairings demonstrate pretty or ugly, nice or mean, fun or boring, young or old, neat or messy; each mommy is loudly adjudged the negative alternative, the growing crowd of children reveling in the mischief. Frazee uses tempera in a limited palette of candy colors, black, and white on soft tan Manila paper, brush strokes giving each area of color (plus the white speech bubbles) luscious texture. The moms look like tall, elongated versions of their children, down to identically colored clothing and hair and distinctive hairstyles. In fluidity of line, simplicity and boldness of palette, and often peculiarity of hairstyle, the figures evoke Seuss’ Whos; in sheer impishness, these children are 100-percent Frazee. When asked, “Do you love your short, ugly, mean, boring, old, messy mommy?” however, there is no question in these children’s minds: “Yes!”

A funny and deceptively simple meditation on unconditional filial love . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0292-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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