It’s an obvious choice for Father’s Day, with year-round surprise applicability.

HOW TO SURPRISE A DAD

From the How To... series

The successful team behind How to Babysit a Grandma (2014) returns to create a quick how-to title for those wanting to seriously surprise their father.

A brother and sister join efforts with a little help from their mom. The first thing to remember: “To surprise a dad, you have to be tricky.” After showing readers how to disguise this book, they then suggest surprises to make (“build a snow-dad” or “invent something amazing just for him”), to do (“get his toothbrush ready” or “reorganize his shoes and hats”), and find by looking “up, down, under and all around.” Reagan keeps the text flowing with plans most children would feel confident carrying out, and Wildish adds touches of humor in each of the digitally rendered illustrations. Regular-day surprises are distinguished from “Special Day surprises.” When the ante is upped, deciding whom to invite, what treats will be served (spicy chips, smoked oysters, superstinky cheese), and what presents need to be made keep the young planners creatively busy. All the members of this family have dark, wavy hair and dark skin—a nice change from generic, pink-skinned families.

It’s an obvious choice for Father’s Day, with year-round surprise applicability. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-49838-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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