Latinx readers with diverse families will appreciate seeing themselves within these pages.

21 COUSINS

De Anda and Muñoz introduce 21 first cousins, each vastly different from the next.

The sibling narrators describe the family as “mestizo,” with a makeup of “the different people and cultures in Mexico: Indian, Spanish, French, and others. This is the reason people in our family look different in many ways. But we are still one family.” Readers meet fair-skinned Elena, dark-skinned Enrique, Teresa with “milk-chocolate skin,” and the rest, ranged along a wide, colorful spectrum. One has Down syndrome; another uses a wheelchair. Each cousin varies in interests, hobbies, talents, and ages as well. There is an aspiring Olympic runner, baseball players, a gymnast, a college student, a drummer, and a dancer. Readers who don’t pay attention to the title page may be surprised to discover the identities of the dual narrators, revealed to be grade schoolers Alejandro and Sofia at the end of the book. Muñoz’s clean illustrations present the cousins in settings that reflect their interests, but they do not interact until a final group portrait with Baby Cristina, the 22nd cousin. As is typical in many Latinx cultures, Spanish terms that describe cousins’ physical attributes—güera, morena, chata—are used as terms of endearment, familiarity, and identification. It must be noted that those terms today are occasionally met with some resistance, as they often point back to origins in colorism and racism.

Latinx readers with diverse families will appreciate seeing themselves within these pages. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59572-915-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starbright Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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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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