Readers will surely want to join this sweet family.

THE RAMBLE SHAMBLE CHILDREN

Five children live a shabby but idyllic life on their own, caring for their home, their garden, and one another.

Merra, Locky, Roozle, Finn, and Jory, children of varying sizes and skin tones, all charmingly illustrated in Castillo’s signature style, live by themselves in a colorful “ramble shamble house.” Each has their own responsibilities: Merra, the oldest, who presents Black, tends the garden and tells bedtime stories. Others take care of chickens, shoo blackbirds, and pull carrots. Jory, the baby, sits on the ground in his onesie pajamas and, adorably, “look[s] after the mud.” (His pale face is smudged with it.) One day, however, they discover a picture of a “proper” house in a book. It doesn’t look like theirs at all. So they set out to “proper up” their home, replacing the carrot patch with roses, creating a fancy henhouse, fashioning a chandelier out of stinkbugs, and raking over the mud puddles. The result is a home that certainly looks more proper, but nothing works smoothly. And worst of all, what’s happened to Jory? Soontornvat’s complete lack of exposition, with no explanation of how five diverse children came to live this way, lends the story a classic, old-time–y feel that allows readers to focus on more important things: what it means to contribute to the well-being of others, what makes a family, and what love looks like. Hint: It doesn’t look like diamond chandeliers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 64.5% of actual size.)

Readers will surely want to join this sweet family. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17632-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby.

BABY GOES TO MARKET

Baby is so charming that various vendors in this West African market gift him all sorts of yummies.

Baby rides on Mama’s back, held snug by a bright cloth wrap. Mama navigates the busy, colorful outdoor market, her woven basket balanced on her head. The text unrolls rhythmically in Atinuke’s storyteller’s voice: “Market is very crowded. Baby is very curious. Baby is so curious that Mrs. Ade, the banana seller, gives Baby six bananas.” Baby eats one and puts the remaining bananas in Mama’s basket. All the while Mama shops, unbeknownst to her, vendors continue to respond to Baby’s transparent delight with five oranges, four “sugary chin-chin biscuits,” three “roasted sweet corn,” and two pieces of coconut. With each delicacy given, Baby eats one and puts the rest in the basket. When Mama sees all the extra foodstuffs she didn’t buy, she’s concerned, until the vendors reassure her: “We gave those things to Baby!” In her debut picture book, Brooksbank offers bright, bustling tableaux of shoppers, vendors, and goods. The smiling, all-black cast sort through myriad wares, while the text keeps up its rhythm, introducing both typical items bought in a West African market and a gentle lesson in arithmetic as Baby alternately snacks on and stashes his gifts.

Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9570-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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