A wonderful book that humanizes refugees through a focus on joy in everyday life, even in asylum.

A FEAST FOR JOSEPH

A resettled refugee kid loves his people’s ways of life and strives to feel at home in his new country.

Joseph’s memories of the tented refugee camp in East Africa, where he used to live, are full of people eating together, dancing, and playing. In his new city, likely in North America, he especially misses the presence of a crowd of people when eating. He tries to invite others to join him and his mother over food, but his relatives, math teacher, and neighbors are all busy. Whoosh, his cheerful neighbor, an Afro-Latinx girl with ribbons in her curly hair, is excited about the food Joseph brings to school: kwon and dek ngor, traditional to his Acholi people of South Sudan and northern Uganda. Colorful dynamic illustrations, including portrayals of food aromas that ignite Joseph’s memories, “white gold” moonlight, and people laughing and dancing, create an uplifting, fun, and energized vibe throughout the book. Featured children and adults are mostly black and brown, and Joseph’s and Whoosh’s mothers wear fabrics with printed floral or geometric designs, including those associated with the African continent. A glossary explains vocabulary possibly new to some readers. At last, Whoosh and her mami join for dinner, bringing food of their own. The kids help prepare a feast where friendship grows and Joseph finds a feeling of home. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A wonderful book that humanizes refugees through a focus on joy in everyday life, even in asylum. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77306-438-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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 sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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