Both amusing and endearing; caregivers and close acquaintances of newborns will feel seen—and heard.

BABY CLOWN

At the Dingling Circus, “a STAR is born”—but how can he dazzle the audience when he won’t stop crying?

In the grand tradition of Marla Frazee’s The Boss Baby (2010), Kate Beaton’s King Baby (2016), and others, a pair of overwhelmed new parents navigate their infant’s attempts to communicate. Boffo and Frieda Clown feed and burp Baby Clown, change his diaper, juggle for him, and even ask their fellow circus performers to entertain him in hopes of ending his wailing. Cordell’s characteristically loose ink-and-watercolor illustrations brilliantly evoke Quentin Blake’s Clown (1996), with large oval eyeballs and expressive mouths and hands. The clown parents’ dramatic features are further exaggerated as they experience dismay, frustration, and abject despair (in one spread, Frieda lies on the floor in the fetal position while Boffo, on his knees, begs Baby Clown to be quiet). All efforts to cheer the tot fail, but the show must go on: The sold-out crowd (depicted in shades of sepia) is eager to see Baby Clown—and their eagerness results in an unexpected solution! The clowns’ makeup is paper-white, and Baby Clown has a shock of brown hair and light-colored hands; “big boss” Mr. Dingling is the only character with distinctly brown skin.

Both amusing and endearing; caregivers and close acquaintances of newborns will feel seen—and heard. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9743-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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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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