A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY

A picture-book affirmation of family diversity.

The opening double-page spread depicts a diverse class of 13 children sitting at their desks in a circle when their teacher asks them to share “what we thought made our family special.” The first-person narrator silently worries. “My family is not like everybody else’s.” The accompanying illustration shows one child, seated at a desk across the circle from the teacher, with eyes downcast, red cheeks, and closed body language. The following spreads are narrated by individual classmates who deliver matter-of-fact, often humorous commentary on their families, augmented by Leng’s appealing cartoon illustrations that lend humor and vitality to characterization. The broad diversity of family constellations is refreshing and ultimately soothing to the worried child from the first spread. After hearing classmates talk about having two moms, two dads, many siblings, divorced parents, a blended family, single parents, mixed-race families, a grandmother who’s “my everything,” and more, the narrator recalls a time when a woman at the park “asked my foster mother to point out her real children. ‘Oh I don’t have any imaginary children,’ Mom said. ‘All my children are real.’ ” This good-natured but firm response is both empowering and instructive, as is the welcome inclusion of a foster family in this thoughtful, needed book.

A-plus fabulous. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-794-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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