SERIOUSLY, YOU HAVE TO EAT

Cleaned-up vocabulary makes You Have to Fucking Eat (2014) palatable for a child audience—but it’s still a picture book for adults.

Just as Mansbach followed up on the success of Go the Fuck to Sleep (2011) with its tamer companion, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep (2012), this title is billed as “the children’s version” of its more colorfully titled counterpart. While the absence of f-bombs will make most adults more inclined to share it with their finicky progeny, the voice remains one of adult exasperation, not childish agency or transformation. The ethnically diverse children depicted in Brozman’s digital illustrations doggedly refuse all entreaties and pleas to eat—not one caves and tries something or decides to like it, à la Sam I Am’s antagonist in Seuss’ picky-eating classic, or otherwise takes the story’s reins. That’s all well and good, but it relegates the text to the domain of adult venting, which undermines its status as “the children’s version.” In a mildly clever call-back to the prior books about going to sleep, the closing lines admit failure in nourishing the fussy child and then say, “But on the bright side, maybe this is the night / You seriously just go to sleep.” Will this series be put to bed now? Or will other parenting travails provoke yet more cathartically crass titles and toned-down companions?

Seriously, please stop. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61775-408-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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