The premise is weak, but the silly pictures make this an enjoyable read-aloud nevertheless.

I DON'T WANT TO BE BIG

A small frog boldly proclaims its reluctance to become big; an adult frog and a pig help it reconsider its views.

As in Petty and Boldt’s earlier collaboration, I Don’t Want to Be a Frog (2015), the expressions on the frogs’ faces are perfect: belligerence from the little frog and weary cynicism from the adult, who is probably the younger frog’s parent. The art also lends excellent credibility to the little frog’s concerns about being unable to fit in the book and terrible at hide-and-seek; only partial views are given of the comical elephant referenced by the child-frog. The text in which the frogs discuss the pros and cons of being big—shown in dialogue bubbles—seems a bit flat, however, probably because most young children want to be bigger. Young children also generally want independence, so the little frog’s assertion that “I have big friends” to reach some cupcakes when it can’t again seems lame. There is plenty of humor, much of it stemming from the art, as when the little frog decides it might not want to meet the tree frogs and the double-page spread suddenly fills, startlingly, with a close-up view of red-eyed tree frogs staring out at readers. The endpapers are also funny, showing an elephant’s trunk using a pencil to mark the little frog’s growing height. The little frog’s final proclamation may lead to a sequel with a complaint more expected from young ones.

The premise is weak, but the silly pictures make this an enjoyable read-aloud nevertheless. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93920-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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 sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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