A subtle, varied, lyrically told exploration of the concept.

HOME IS...

In this gentle, expository piece, a rhyming text merges with vibrant illustrations to explore multiple interpretations of the meaning of home.

Home is particular for both humans and creatures of the natural world. Alternating and opposing views prove the point. “Home is land, home is sky. / Home is wet, home is dry.” A rural river scene reveals a bear emerging from its den to find breakfast in the fish-filled river, birds flying above through a clear, sunny sky, a beaver observing from its dam, and a small cottage sitting on the far bank. The contrasting views continue: “Home is dark, home is bright. / Home is day, home is night.” The dark undersea world is shown opposite a bright tropical reef to illustrate the first half of the couplet; a rooster below a beaming sun parallels the night flight of an owl through a city’s star-filled, moonlit sky for the second. The simplicity of the text is significantly enhanced by the soft-toned, complex, and engaging paintings that offer differentiating vistas as the concept of home encompasses the enumerated examples. Some will be obvious in their meaning—“roomy”/“snug,” “floating”/“still,” “far”/“near”—while others will be a bit obscure. All will encourage discussion and analysis. “Forever” versus “on loan” is limned with a turtle opposite a hermit crab. Finally, “Home is anywhere you love” returns to the river scene at night with a depiction of comfort, warmth, and peace as the animals sleep and a window-lit cottage twinkles in the distance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A subtle, varied, lyrically told exploration of the concept. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2176-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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 forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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