Sweet and well intentioned but misses the mark.

MEENA'S MINDFUL MOMENT

When Meena goes to visit her grandfather in his South Asian village, she is followed by her “hurly-burly hullabaloo”—an imaginary being that incites Meena to create chaos wherever she goes.

Meena and her hullabaloo (depicted as a wispy-edged, blue-green blob with striped arms and legs) try to calm down by doing yoga with Dada. But no matter how hard she works to hold tree pose, Meena can’t seem to stop her throat from singing or her legs and toes from wiggling and waggling. On the beach, Meena and the hullabaloo wreak havoc, tangling the fishermen’s nets and splashing everyone with a huge wave. Before long, the villagers can’t take it anymore, and they scold Meena before Dada placates them. Meena is saddened by this anger but is unsure what to do. Then her Dada introduces her to his very own hullabaloo (who’s very similar to Meena’s, except it’s white, like Dada’s hair). Meena now feels less alone and is ultimately able to force her hullaballoo into a state of calm. The book’s bright and busy illustrations pulse with life, and the text is simple, clear, and easy to read. While the mindfulness message is a positive one, in practice, this is essentially a story about a girl being punished for being loud and full of life: Meena’s transformation is sparked by the villagers’ anger at her being her loud, unadulterated self, and her triumphant self-control comes at the expense of her expansive personality.

Sweet and well intentioned but misses the mark. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64567-286-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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