Plenty of need for this warm hug of a book.

PLENTY OF HUGS

A sweet portrait of parental love, notable for its depiction of a two-mom family.

The text neither names nor defines the family relationships in this picture book, so Alizadeh’s art takes the lead in depicting two women and their baby. One mother appears white, with light skin and short-cropped brown hair, while the other has long, dark, wavy hair and a slightly darker skin tone. Their child has coloring more like that of the latter mother and is clearly abundantly loved by both parents. The illustrations depict the family riding their bicycles to a farm and a zoo before heading home for dinner, a bath, and bedtime. The loose linework, gentle palette, and soft visual texture of the art is a perfect match for the lilting, easy cadence of the affirming text: “There’s a buzz for each bug, / and a breeze for each tree, / and plenty of hugs for you and me.” The speaker and addressee of this line and others are never defined, which underscores the clarity of Alizadeh’s intention in depicting this particular queer family constellation. “You” could have been depicted as one person, after all, but this line is accompanied by a group hug shared by the child and two moms.

Plenty of need for this warm hug of a book. (Picture book. 1-5)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55401-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

THE ABCS OF LOVE

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

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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