Staake and de Sève are a perfect match in this intergenerational tale that puts value on experience, memories, and time...

A FIRE TRUCK NAMED RED

When Rowan receives his grandfather’s toy fire truck, he learns to see beauty—and adventure—in the old.

It’s Rowan’s birthday, and the red-haired white boy knows exactly which fire truck he wants. From the store window it beckons, with larger-than-life features and dazzling red paint. But instead, he gets Papa’s rusty old truck. Disappointment and tears brew, but it’s apparent Papa loves the old toy, and as he repairs Red, he recounts their daring deeds. A skeptical Rowan politely listens, until the stories become so interesting, so real, they fill the page, and Rowan is swept up in them, becoming part of Red’s history, seeing Red’s possibilities. Even before the fresh paint dries, Rowan realizes the beauty of Red—and of Papa. Staake’s signature style is as appealing as ever, but it’s his brilliant use of contrasting styles that gives Red its soul. Here, the new, modern toys are rendered in his typical, flat style, whereas Red is depicted with photorealism and loaded with texture, giving the old fire truck life, character, and depth. Papa’s memories of Red are done in an evocative sepia tone. As the adventures become more engrossing, Rowan is literally pulled into them until he is fully immersed, deepening his bond to his Papa.

Staake and de Sève are a perfect match in this intergenerational tale that puts value on experience, memories, and time spent together. An absolute delight. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30073-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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A fresh take on an enduring theme.

MOST PERFECT YOU

When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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