SAM'S FIRST WORD

A decidedly cheeky first-word book.

Little Sam is the adored child of Mama and Papa. She also has a doting grandmother and a friendly neighbor named Mr. Theotopolous (whose surname suggests Greek heritage and whose light-brown complexion is darker than Sam’s light-skinned family). Everyone cheers Sam on as she achieves various milestones, and they anxiously await her first word. To humorous effect, they also each try to coach her so that word is Mama, Papa, Nana, and Mr. Theotopolous, respectively. They get so caught up in that coaching that they miss the fact that Sam is already saying her first word, repeatedly: “Poop.” Unfortunately, this punchline is given away on the book’s cover, which undermines the humor on a first reading, but this is the only misstep in a book that otherwise gets its pacing just right. Hatam’s crisp, bright illustrations capture Sam’s efforts to get the grown-ups’ attention as she finally resorts to stripping off her soiled diaper and declaring “POOP!” one final time. Like many a toddler, Sam stands proudly naked, the cartoon style presenting a frontal view of the child without anatomical detail. A clever ending reveals Sam’s second word as the cherry on top of this sweet toddler story.

Fresh, fun, and funny. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-45244-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Vibrant photographs—especially action shots—will capture children’s attention, build language skills and, one hopes, start...

FAMILIES

“We hope this book…will lead children and their parents to engage in conversation about their families.”

So begins this good-sized book, which is packed with photographs of families of many different sizes, shapes, ages and colors (although most wear casual clothing familiar to most American children). Bold, colorful type announces: “There are all kinds of families.” Engaging photographs throughout complement a simple text that informs readers about differences—such as big vs. small; genders and generations of parents; adoption vs. birth children. Positive similarities follow, as families get together for celebrations and family members help one another out and enjoy activities together. Only childless families are excluded, but that can be forgiven by the book’s noble, stated goal. Kelly adds an endnote to further encourage parents: “Recently, research psychologists have found that children who developed a strong family narrative from speaking with their parents about family history and hearing family stories, both good and bad, exhibited greater self-esteem….” As the photographs’ emotional spectrum covers the tiny range from cheerful to exuberant, it’s an open question whether this will encourage or inhibit truthful family-history revelations. However, the emphatic ending will certainly start a dialogue: “There are many different kinds of families. What about yours?”

Vibrant photographs—especially action shots—will capture children’s attention, build language skills and, one hopes, start conversations. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3053-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Both a sweet lap-read and a gentle exhortation that caregivers interact with their children.

BUNNY ROO AND DUCKLING TOO

Marr and White produce a toddler sequel to Bunny Roo, I Love You (2015).

“One day you woke… / and hopped out of bed. I thought you’d become a frog, / so I brought you to the pond,” the doting narrator begins. But after touching the water, the child behaves like a duckling. And when the narrator joins the child in the water, the child clings like a monkey to the adult’s back. This pattern continues as the adult and child go through their day interacting, the child becoming a snake and a cheetah before morphing into “my bunny roo.” The rabbit eats some salad before a snuggle finally reveals the human child they have been all along, a barefoot tot in green one-piece pajamas with light skin and hair a shade lighter than their mother’s red. “You are my everything, as fun as all the animals in the world.” Pale, creamy backgrounds and sparse details keep the focus on the parent-child relationship, which is very sweet and tender, especially in the closing vignette of mother holding a snuggly child. The mother, whether animal or human, has prominent eyelashes that her child lacks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 29.7% of actual size.)

Both a sweet lap-read and a gentle exhortation that caregivers interact with their children. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-51604-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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