Appealing—and empowering.

THE ALMOST FEARLESS HAMILTON SQUIDLEGGER

With his dad’s help, a young frog conquers nighttime fears by harnessing his imagination.

Hamilton Squidlegger and his wooden sword thwart the (imaginary) threats looming in the swamp, be they fire-breathing frackensnapper, clawed skelecragon or twining bracklesneed. Hamilton’s bravado disappears at sunset, though, as his prodigious imagination animates those same fictive monsters. He flees his own mud for his “secret hideaway”—wedged between his sleepless parents. While Hamilton wakes refreshed and ready for more fearless exploits, his beleaguered dad’s weary of this pattern. He bakes Hamilton’s luscious fave, a “double-decker grasshopper worm-cake,” offering it as breakfast in exchange for Hamilton’s successful overnighter in his own mud. As a storm threatens, Hamilton worries: “What if a l-l-lightning monster comes tonight?” Dad encourages Hamilton to enlist his mind to turn the tide: “Think good thoughts is what I say. Monsters are silly, and they love to play!” More than a dozen full spreads, including a double gatefold, spool out Hamilton’s ensuing dream-adventure. A junked TV spews a pink-lemonade sea; a flying ship with a striped-bass cook unites Hamilton, his dad and the now-friendly monsters, who all sleep in their “very own cabins.” Ering’s pictures splice together spindle-legged, popeyed creatures, etchy linework, and lush layers of washy, brushy, splotchy, gorgeously colored paint. In the last image, Hamilton digs into that yummy worm cake at sunrise.

Appealing—and empowering. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2357-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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New dads will eat this up.

MADE FOR ME

A giant hulk of a man describes his emotions as his child captures his heart.

“On the day you were born, I beamed with pride. / My eyes filled with tears. I joyfully cried. / From the moment I saw you and called out your name, / the world as I knew it was never the same.” The rest of the book proceeds to demonstrate just how thoroughly this tot has their father wrapped around their finger and shows the dad lovingly caring for his growing child’s every need: bottles, diapers, soothing, tickling, feeding, bathing, playing, reading, and exploring the world. While the rhyme and rhythm aren’t always spot-on and one illustration depicts a crib instead of the cradle referred to in the text, there is no denying the appeal of this father-child pair, as their bond is more than apparent. The dichotomy between the tiny redheaded tot and the giant lumberjack–look-alike dad—red plaid shirt, blue jeans, full red beard and mustache, and tiny head perched atop a round body with tree-trunk forearms—both white, adds to the sweet sentimentality (sometimes slipping into saccharine) of this book. While young children may relish the opportunity to use this as a springboard for hearing about their own babyhoods with their dads, new fathers are just as likely an audience, the sweet refrain—“Of all the children that ever could be, / you are the one made just for me”—tugging at heartstrings.

New dads will eat this up. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-945547-69-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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