He may be just a toddler, but Max is getting a little old.

MAX & RUBY AND THE BABYSITTING SQUAD

From the Max and Ruby Adventure series

Has Ruby learned nothing? Underestimating Max never goes well.

Ruby and her friend Louise have an idea. Branding themselves the Babysitting Squad, they decide to hire themselves out—informing Max, Ruby’s younger brother, that he is neither professional nor bonded and so cannot be part of it. Soon the girls are off to their first job, however, with Max riding along in his full-sized Saw-toothed Dirt Bucketer and somehow also towing his Rock Crusher. Telling Max to play outside, the girls have big plans, but their charge, Percy, would rather wear a skunk suit and spray people with aftershave and mouthwash than cooperate. However, when Percy gets a look at Max digging in the backyard, once more the underestimated little brother saves the day. Ruby and Max inhabit a world in which people book babysitters on long corded phones and elementary-age babysitters boast that they are “bonded” without explanation. Even readers who accept this may wonder why Max is going along on the job when he’s been told he can’t. Beginning with insufficient setup, the book ends with a thunk (Max just turns on a sprinkler) rather than an actual conclusion. It all prompts the obvious question: Is it time to retire the sibling duo that has brought us such joy over the years? (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 30.3% of actual size.)

He may be just a toddler, but Max is getting a little old. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6328-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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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Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration.

I LOVE DADDY EVERY DAY

Children point out the things they love about their fathers.

“Daddy is always kind. He gives us support and shelter when things go wrong.” A child with a skinned knee (and downed ice cream cone) gets a bandage and loving pat from Daddy (no shelter is visible, but the child’s concerned sibling sweetly extends their own cone). Daddy’s a storyteller, a magician, supportive, loyal, silly, patient, and he knows everything. A die-cut hole pierces most pages, positioned so that the increasingly smaller holes to come can be seen through it; what it represents in each scene varies, and it does so with also-variable success. The bland, nonrhyming, inconsistent text does little to attract or keep attention, though the die cuts might (until they fall victim to curious fingers). The text also confusingly mixes first-person singular and plural, sometimes on the same page: “Daddy is like a gardener. He lovingly cares for us and watches us grow. I’m his pride and joy!” Even as the text mixes number the illustrations mix metaphors. This particular gardener daddy is pictured shampooing a child during bathtime. Más’ cartoon illustrations are sweet if murkily interpretive, affection clearly conveyed. Troublingly, though, each father and his child(ren) seem to share the same racial presentation and hair color (sometimes even hairstyle!), shutting out many different family constellations. Más does, however, portray several disabilities: children and adults wearing glasses, a child with a cochlear implant, and another using a wheelchair.

Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12305-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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