A must-have celebration of cultural understanding and community—and the joy of family.

THE BIG BATH HOUSE

Family, community, body positivity, and a nice hot bath—ahhhhh!

A young international traveler with beige skin and straight dark hair eagerly greets her grandmother at Baachan’s home in Japan. Accompanied by gregarious aunties with “big stories and bigger purses,” she and Baachan visit the big bath house nearby and engage in a cultural, communal event: the Japanese bath. A soapy shower comes first so the women enter the bath clean. Then the girl joins all kinds of women—old and young, thin and fat—who are naked and thoroughly enjoying the hot water and female companionship. Together, the young girls dance while the women talk in this protected and private (yet public) space. Entering the pool, they all take “a chorus of one long breath. Ahhhhh.” Beautifully loose-lined and delicately colored illustrations depict vibrant, earth-toned scenes so soaked with conversation and interaction that, if readers lean close, they might be able to listen in. Various skin tones and body shapes and sizes celebrate a broad spectrum of body diversity. Rhythmic, occasionally rhyming second-person narration invites young readers into the rollicking fun of the bath-house experience. The girl and Baachan understand each other without saying a word—a powerful metaphor for how this book can serve as a cultural bridge between Western and Eastern sensibilities of privacy and body positivity. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A must-have celebration of cultural understanding and community—and the joy of family. (glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18195-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way.

PINKIE PROMISES

Lately, everyone seems intent on telling Polly what girls can’t do.

Whether it’s fixing a leak, building a model drawbridge, or washing a car, it seems like the world thinks that girls aren’t able to do anything. Polly is discouraged until she goes to a political rally with her mother. There, the two meet a White woman named Elizabeth (recognizably author Warren in Chua’s friendly illustrations) who’s running for president. She tells Polly that she is running because that’s what girls do: They lead. Polly and Elizabeth make a pinky promise to remember this truth. Polly decides that being a girl can’t prevent her from doing whatever she wants. Even though she’s a bit intimidated at attending a brand-new school, Polly decides to be brave—because that’s what girls do, and she makes a pinkie promise with her mom. At soccer, she’s under pressure to score the winning goal. She makes a pinkie promise with her coach to do her best, because that’s what girls do. And so on. By the end of the book, Polly ignores what she’s been told that girls can’t do and totally focuses on what they can do: absolutely anything they want. In the illustrations, Polly and her family have dark skin and straight, dark hair. The narrative is inspiring and child friendly, although the constant return to making pinkie promises feels like a distraction from the central message. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Inspiring, if all these pinkie promises don’t get in the way. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80102-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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