Lovely, sweet, and warmly offbeat.

I BELIEVE IN YOU

From the Hazy Dell Love & Nurture Books series

Playful cryptids model unconditional love and acceptance for the board-book set.

Gorgeous colors, tones, and textures combine with an off-kilter cast and conceit to lend charm to what could easily feel maudlin. Rhymed text provides a vehicle for caregivers to deliver a warm and reassuring message of unconditional love to their charges. The verse is delivered in a style that borders on Hallmark-lite, but despite this—or perhaps because of it—author Barks and illustrator Bletsis wring ironic charm by pairing the unabashed sentiment with playful paranormal hijinks. The result feels improbably special, offering an opportunity to bask in the bond between caregiver and child. Hearing the titular phrase, “I believe in you,” repeated between parent and child sea serpents as they swim around Loch Ness is endearing and clever. The message doesn’t feel trite. Golden skies, rolling hills, and blue waters reflecting the bright yellow hues of the sun lend an air of magic to Nessie’s home. The text is not Shakespeare, but the message is clear: “From the bright golden dawn // to your cute bedtime yawn, / I believe in you. // Some people may doubt, / but we’ll tune them out. // And I’ll believe in you. // All the friends that you make, / will know you’re not fake. // They’ll believe in you.” The accompanying illustrations of wee Nessie playing joyfully with Bigfoot, a ghost, an ET, and a winged unicorn are clinchers.

Lovely, sweet, and warmly offbeat. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-948931-17-5

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Hazy Dell Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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