This bumpy goodnight journey won’t likely lead to golden slumbers. (Picture book. 3-5)

GOODNIGHT WORLD

A rhyming journey around a child’s world just before bedtime.

Swooping, colorful motifs on each spread and lilting couplets invite the familiar practice of bidding goodnight to vehicles, flowers, and animals big and small that later appear as toys in a child’s bedroom. Beginning in the stratosphere, the story tours various ecological habitats before landing at last in the bedroom of a white child whose parents are settling down for bed. Unfortunately, the book’s artwork falls short of lulling readers. Importantly, penguins and sea lions are more likely to be found in the Antarctic than the Arctic, as implied here. Disjointed organization transports readers from oceans under northern lights to trains and rocket ships, from birds, bees, and deep-sea fish to a sleepy zoo. Inconsistent scale and proportion pose further problems. What looks like a young white girl walking a dog outside soon disappears, while inside the house a few page turns later is a white woman reaching for the child (perhaps she is mother?), with the same dog curled up nearby. Additionally, the text, though at times endearing (“Goodnight lights above, aglow”), at other times hiccups a bit (“Goodnight moon, goodnight sun. / Goodnight, goodnight, to everyone”). Uneven meter and unclear meaning interrupt an otherwise soothing read-aloud.

This bumpy goodnight journey won’t likely lead to golden slumbers. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-363-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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