Despite some shortcomings, the book carries the day on showcasing the beautiful traditions of Raksha Bandhan.

THREAD OF LOVE

To the tune of “Frère Jacques,” the book showcases Raksha Bandhan, a festival in northern India that celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters.

Two sisters busy themselves making a rakhi (the titular thread of love) and tying it to their brother. In return, their brother gives them a gift and some chum-chum (an Indian sweet). The book ends with a heartwarming spread showcasing family, friends, and neighbors around the world being bound by this thread of love. While obviously enjoyable for storytimes, the cadence of the song with these lyrics can be a bit challenging, and some poetic license has been taken with the wording, possibly to meet the meter. “Sister Kashi, Sister Kashi,” reads the text, “meri ban, meri ban.” The phrase “meri ban” is translated in the glossary as “my sister,” with an addendum that “behan” is “an alternate spelling”; many speakers of Hindi may well feel that “behan” is the standard rendering and “ban” an unfamiliar variation. Debut illustrator Hoang’s illustrations are infused with persimmon, magenta, and lime green. The children’s faces are disproportionately large, and they wear only traditional Indian garb. The backdrops indicate an Indian setting, with words in Hindi on shops and a cricket poster in the brother’s bedroom. Although the concluding map includes children likely of the Indian diaspora, it’s a shame the story itself is so visually limiting. The book ends with helpful instructions for making a rakhi.

Despite some shortcomings, the book carries the day on showcasing the beautiful traditions of Raksha Bandhan. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0473-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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