An unsuccessful adaptation.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU

Carey’s zillion-selling Christmas song is paired with pictures that put a slightly different spin on the original’s romantic yearning.

A picture of mini-Mariah hugging a white-and-brown terrier puppy on the cover establishes the tone. As the story opens, the little girl walks past a storefront advertising “Puppy Love Adoption” and spends the next several pages incorporating dogs into her Christmas preparations: she draws pictures of dogs and makes dog-shaped cookies, a dog puppet, a snowdog, etc. Around her, her siblings likewise prepare, sometimes in clever counterpoint. Mini-Mariah sits reading a book about dogs while her siblings compose comically extensive lists as the text reads, “I won’t make a list and send it to the North Pole for Saint Nick.” Madden creates a standard-issue snowy American suburb with a pleasingly multiethnic cast of characters. Carey’s own ethnically mixed heritage is hinted at with an African-American grandmother and Caucasian grandfather; the protagonist’s siblings all have light-brown skin and short, curly, dark hair. This creates a jarring dissonance with mini-Mariah, who is depicted with her signature flowing, blonde locks flopping conspicuously over one eye. Readers familiar with the song will wonder how any picture book might jibe with Carey’s vocal rendition, suffused with sexual longing in its first verse, but the mood of the pictures matches the song’s overall pep. The book’s biggest problem is that the direct address to “you” throughout the song is developmentally out of sync with the younger members of its audience, who will be thinking, “Who, me?” instead of the hoped-for dog every time the text iterates “you.”

An unsuccessful adaptation. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-55139-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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