A digressive plot gets in the way of this celebration of female relationships.

TOMATOES FOR NEELA

Neela loves cooking with her mother in their big, warm kitchen, where her grandmother’s portrait hangs on the wall.

On Saturday, Neela and Amma go to the green market to buy the vegetable Neela loves cooking best: tomatoes! Together, Neela and Amma make a sauce using a recipe passed down from Paati. As they cook, Neela and her mother dance to the music Amma’s bangles make when she chops vegetables and grates carrots. Amma tells Neela about how tomatoes came from Mesoamerica, where they were cultivated by the ancient Aztecs, and how Europeans initially feared they were poisonous. Now, Amma says, they’re used in cooking all over the world—including India, where Paati’s recipe comes from. As they finish the sauce and can it for the winter, Amma tells Neela about the tomato harvest and about the benefits of eating and cooking vegetables and fruits while they are in season. As they finish preserving the sauce, Neela saves a jar for Paati, who will visit in the winter. Martinez-Neal’s warmly textured, beautifully detailed illustrations are the perfect celebration of intergenerational love. Similarly, the gentle text has some lovely emotional moments. However, Lakshmi includes so much information in the narrative that it meanders, which may cause readers to lose hold of its core. Recipes for sauce and chutney, additional tomato facts, a note about farm workers, and a personal note close the book.

A digressive plot gets in the way of this celebration of female relationships. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20270-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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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Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby.

BABY GOES TO MARKET

Baby is so charming that various vendors in this West African market gift him all sorts of yummies.

Baby rides on Mama’s back, held snug by a bright cloth wrap. Mama navigates the busy, colorful outdoor market, her woven basket balanced on her head. The text unrolls rhythmically in Atinuke’s storyteller’s voice: “Market is very crowded. Baby is very curious. Baby is so curious that Mrs. Ade, the banana seller, gives Baby six bananas.” Baby eats one and puts the remaining bananas in Mama’s basket. All the while Mama shops, unbeknownst to her, vendors continue to respond to Baby’s transparent delight with five oranges, four “sugary chin-chin biscuits,” three “roasted sweet corn,” and two pieces of coconut. With each delicacy given, Baby eats one and puts the rest in the basket. When Mama sees all the extra foodstuffs she didn’t buy, she’s concerned, until the vendors reassure her: “We gave those things to Baby!” In her debut picture book, Brooksbank offers bright, bustling tableaux of shoppers, vendors, and goods. The smiling, all-black cast sort through myriad wares, while the text keeps up its rhythm, introducing both typical items bought in a West African market and a gentle lesson in arithmetic as Baby alternately snacks on and stashes his gifts.

Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9570-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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