A gift of a picture book that’s at once nostalgic and fresh.

WHEN'S MY BIRTHDAY?

A picture book to celebrate.

Fogliano is at her best here, with text reminiscent of Charlotte Zolotow’s, Margaret Wise Brown’s, and Ruth Krauss’ writing. Her spare, singsong verse pairs perfectly with Robinson’s naïve style expressed in joyful, retro, multimedia collage. The striking, narrow portrait layout recalls Marc Simont’s Caldecott-winning A Tree Is Nice, but this picture book is much more than nice. It’s splendid. Illustrations feature an ever shifting multiracial cast of children, not to mention cakes, balloons, wrapped gifts, and markers of changing seasons, to accompany and expand upon the text. Whimsical details, such as the inclusion of a giraffe and a sloth as party guests in the illustrations, add levity and surprise. The repeated refrain—“when’s my birthday? / where’s my birthday? / how many days until / my birthday?”—lends cohesion to the book despite the lack of a linear textual narrative. One little girl with straight black hair, olive skin, and large dark eyes (who looks a bit like Robinson’s protagonist from The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, written by Justin Roberts, 2014) appears multiple times, signaling that she is the one anticipating her birthday. The antepenultimate spread shows her losing a fight against sleep as she waits for her birthday to arrive the next morning, and the closing page turns when the big day arrives are “happy happy!” indeed.

A gift of a picture book that’s at once nostalgic and fresh. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-293-4

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration.

I LOVE DADDY EVERY DAY

Children point out the things they love about their fathers.

“Daddy is always kind. He gives us support and shelter when things go wrong.” A child with a skinned knee (and downed ice cream cone) gets a bandage and loving pat from Daddy (no shelter is visible, but the child’s concerned sibling sweetly extends their own cone). Daddy’s a storyteller, a magician, supportive, loyal, silly, patient, and he knows everything. A die-cut hole pierces most pages, positioned so that the increasingly smaller holes to come can be seen through it; what it represents in each scene varies, and it does so with also-variable success. The bland, nonrhyming, inconsistent text does little to attract or keep attention, though the die cuts might (until they fall victim to curious fingers). The text also confusingly mixes first-person singular and plural, sometimes on the same page: “Daddy is like a gardener. He lovingly cares for us and watches us grow. I’m his pride and joy!” Even as the text mixes number the illustrations mix metaphors. This particular gardener daddy is pictured shampooing a child during bathtime. Más’ cartoon illustrations are sweet if murkily interpretive, affection clearly conveyed. Troublingly, though, each father and his child(ren) seem to share the same racial presentation and hair color (sometimes even hairstyle!), shutting out many different family constellations. Más does, however, portray several disabilities: children and adults wearing glasses, a child with a cochlear implant, and another using a wheelchair.

Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12305-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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