The title doesn’t really match the content, though it may spark readers’ own imaginations.

IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD

The finer points of various jobs are explored in this tribute to…dads?

“It’s great being a unicorn. I love being a unicorn. Who wouldn’t want to be a unicorn?” The bright, cartoon, rainbow-bedecked spread hardly seems like it belongs in a book about being a dad. Ditto the spreads about being Bigfoot, a robot, the Loch Ness Monster, and a “fairy queen ballerina doctor.” For each of the characters, there are positives and negatives to their roles. For instance, the unicorn’s horn gets in the way of grazing and eating cake off a table, which subsequently gets stuck on said horn. Bigfoot tries to come to the rescue, but it has challenges of its own. And so on. It’s not until the magic wand of the fairy queen ballerina doctor is snatched by a “sneaky flying alligator pirate” that dads are even mentioned. A turn of the page reveals a dark-skinned dad standing amid a scene of imaginative play: it’s great being a dad, as dads can fix it all. What’s not to like? “Sudden makeovers.” Perry’s gouache and Photoshop illustrations clue readers in only on the final spreads, the kids’ clever clothing and costuming choices making their characters come to life. Only one child is white; the rest are various shades of brown, though all have distractingly stylized noses.

The title doesn’t really match the content, though it may spark readers’ own imaginations. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77049-605-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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