A solid addition to the back-to-school shelves.


Siblings learn to adjust to a new normal when big sister Liza starts kindergarten and little brother Henry must learn to get along without her.

Henry and Liza, a brown-skinned sibling pair with kinky-curly brown hair, have been together “as long as there had been Henry and Liza.” They read, explore the outdoors, play, and get haircuts and flu shots together. One of their favorite things to do is to visit their Best Place under the Twisty Tree, but as its yellowing leaves—a prominent theme throughout—portend, things are about to change. When Liza gets a new backpack, Henry learns that not only is he not old enough to go to school, but his skills at writing, drawing, and using scissors are not enough to gain him entry. As leaves flutter down around him, Henry lets out a “ROARRRRRR!” The theme of leaves continues on the wallpaper as Henry storms upstairs to a blanket fort in which “no kindergartners [are] allowed!” Working through his anger, Henry discovers that there are lots of things he can do without Liza. As he gets lost in his imagination, a process delightfully played out in Marley’s empathetic cartoons, he starts to enjoy himself and realizes there may be some benefits to Liza’s absence. This book deftly explores a topic not often seen in the back-to-school genre: the experience of the younger sibling. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A solid addition to the back-to-school shelves. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-328-91675-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


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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Another solid addition to the beloved series.


Summertime with all its pleasures is coming to an end, and school will soon begin again. What challenges will the new school year bring for Llama?

Told in a by-now-trademark rhyming verse style and accompanied by adorable, cheerful oil paint, colored pencil, and oil pastel illustrations, this story finds Llama taking pleasure in all the fun that summer brings—and hoping it will never be over. “Fishing, hiking, slip and slide. / Backyard camping, picnic time.” But as sure as one season follows another, fall is on its way and school will be starting again. Mamma Llama takes Llama shopping for new school supplies, but the expression on little Llama’s face makes it clear that preparing to return to school is anything but fun. Soon, the first day of school comes, and Llama is ready. There are so many rules: “Be on time. / Don’t push or shove. Stand in line. / Do not shout. Raise your hand.” “Lunch in cubbies. Coats on hooks.” But these are seasoned students, and they take it in stride. All except for one: A young rhino is new and feeling scared. Llama knows just what to do, sharing crayons and showing the newcomer how to glue. Soon the rhino is part of the gang. As is characteristic of the series, this is one more situation familiar to many a young child solved in sweet Llama style. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Another solid addition to the beloved series. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35244-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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