Umrigar’s flights of fancy may lead parents and children to ponder their own specific traits and what might have led to them...

WHEN I CARRIED YOU IN MY BELLY

A mother relates how her actions during pregnancy led to her growing daughter’s specific traits.

“When I carried you in my belly, Grandpa baked a chocolate cake each week, and cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles, and lots of love inside. And that is why you became… // the sweetest girl that I know.” Daddy’s plans to play ball resulted in the girl’s becoming a “fearless little sprite,” and her feet “tap in rhythm to the earth today” because her mom danced while pregnant. While these notions of inborn traits are unscientific to say the least, they will strike a chord with both new mothers and children, who love to hear about their beginnings. And the ending spreads tug heartstrings: “I felt your kicks and heartbeats as clearly as my own. And that is why, my baby, now that I no longer carry you in my belly… // I carry you in my heart, each day.” Chen’s seemingly digital illustrations portray an obviously loving family. Mother and daughter are light-brown–skinned brunettes, while dad has darker skin and close-cropped dark hair.

Umrigar’s flights of fancy may lead parents and children to ponder their own specific traits and what might have led to them (and hopefully a discussion of nature and nurture as well). (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6058-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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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 good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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