Readers will surely want to join this sweet family.

THE RAMBLE SHAMBLE CHILDREN

Five children live a shabby but idyllic life on their own, caring for their home, their garden, and one another.

Merra, Locky, Roozle, Finn, and Jory, children of varying sizes and skin tones, all charmingly illustrated in Castillo’s signature style, live by themselves in a colorful “ramble shamble house.” Each has their own responsibilities: Merra, the oldest, who presents Black, tends the garden and tells bedtime stories. Others take care of chickens, shoo blackbirds, and pull carrots. Jory, the baby, sits on the ground in his onesie pajamas and, adorably, “look[s] after the mud.” (His pale face is smudged with it.) One day, however, they discover a picture of a “proper” house in a book. It doesn’t look like theirs at all. So they set out to “proper up” their home, replacing the carrot patch with roses, creating a fancy henhouse, fashioning a chandelier out of stinkbugs, and raking over the mud puddles. The result is a home that certainly looks more proper, but nothing works smoothly. And worst of all, what’s happened to Jory? Soontornvat’s complete lack of exposition, with no explanation of how five diverse children came to live this way, lends the story a classic, old-time–y feel that allows readers to focus on more important things: what it means to contribute to the well-being of others, what makes a family, and what love looks like. Hint: It doesn’t look like diamond chandeliers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 64.5% of actual size.)

Readers will surely want to join this sweet family. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17632-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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