One of a rush of commemorations of Apollo 11’s semicentennial, but this is more about father-daughter intimacy than “One...

PAPA PUT A MAN ON THE MOON

A child’s tribute to one of the thousands of blue-collar workers who have made the space program possible.

Though Dempsey looks back on family history in highlighting the small but significant contribution that her father and other workers in a South Carolina textile factory made by manufacturing one layer of spacesuit material, she holds off describing the technological feat or even placing it in historical context until her afterword. Instead, in all that comes before she mainly focuses on the admiration any child might feel for a hardworking dad. Thus, despite a climactic gathering before the TV to watch Walter Cronkite before Green cuts away to Neil Armstrong’s swaddled figure, there are no narrative details that bring either the times or specifics of work in the factory itself to life. When the child asks whether her father is proud to be part of a great endeavor he answers, “Only proud to make a living, Marthanne. Only proud to make a living.” Aside from dressing father and daughter in period clothing (when the latter isn’t visualizing herself floating in space), Green doesn’t do much to pick up the slack—one glimpse inside a factory furnished with vaguely drawn hand looms, an illegibly tiny labeled sketch of a spacesuit, and, later, a stack of old-time TVs as a tailpiece notwithstanding. Marthanne and her family are white; some group scenes include black background characters.

One of a rush of commemorations of Apollo 11’s semicentennial, but this is more about father-daughter intimacy than “One small step….” (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3074-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY.

THE ONE AND ONLY SPARKELLA MAKES A PLAN

From the Sparkella series , Vol. 2

Reality puts only a temporary damper on big, glittery plans for a sleepover castle.

New school friend Tam, who shared bánh mi at lunch in The One and Only Sparkella (2021), is arriving in two hours, and before that Sparkella needs to make a castle “fit for two royal highnesses.” Unfortunately, even with Dad’s help, the flimsy cardboard construction collapses as soon as Sparkella climbs inside to test it. What to do? After giving the pouting princess some personal time in the garage, Dad points the way: “I think you have to take what you have and make it SPARKLE like only you can.” And, indeed, by the time brown-skinned “Tam, Queen of Kittens” is dropped off by her grandma, a pair of folding tables have been transformed with paint, wrapping paper, and colorful fabrics into the sparkliest castle ever! Laying on saturated colors and sprays of tiny stars with a lavish hand, Barnes depicts the two young “royals” in flamboyantly decorated settings—even Dad’s motorcycle is a dazzling confection awash in bows, and Dad himself, light-skinned like Sparkella, isn’t the least decorative element considering his fondness for sporting a purple boa and outrageous eyewear when occasion demands. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-75076-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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