What are parents good for? Bently (The Great Balloon Hullaballoo) offers a jaunty rhyming catalogue of the myriad functions mothers and fathers fulfill in the lives of their kids. While the opening scene acknowledges that it’s easy to think “that your mom and your dad/ are there just to nag you and boss you like mad,” subsequent pages offer up true-to-life examples of parents at work, at play, and under duress (“Parents are great to build mountains of sand on,/ and lovely big heaters for warming your hands on”). To bring home such points, Ogilvie’s (Dogs Don’t Do Ballet) wispy, mixed-media compositions depict a spectrum of families in energetic, realistic, and humorous scenes of parenting in action. Her adults are alternately exhausted, beleaguered, bemused, and content as they play with and tend to tireless children. The book wraps up with a playfully cozy cautionary note as Bently warns, “Once they have fixed all your problems... and pickles,/ you’d better watch out because parents love... TICKLES!” This happy love-letter will ring true for many families. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jodie Hodges, United Agents. Illustrator’s agent: NB Illustration. (May)
Starred review Is there anything worse than parents? Always telling kids to clean up, eat their vegetables, and get a move on already? Well, the lilting rhymes in this picture book from the author of King Jack and the Dragon (2011) remind little tots of all the helpful and loving things parents do. Each humorous couplet describing a good use for a parent is paired with a warm, childlike drawing of big-eyed, innocent kids in some kind of scrape. Blanket fort about to collapse? “Parents are tent poles for dens that are wonky.” Accidentally drop ice cream on a fancy lady’s new boots? “Parents say ‘sorry’ to folks who’ve just met you.” Hands dirty after a mud-puddle expedition? “Parents are towels for wiping your grime on.” Ogilvie’s lively pencil, pastel, and ink illustrations, full of sketchy lines and bright, colorful smudges, perfectly capture the riotous mess the oblivious, rosy-cheeked children trail behind them wherever they go. Untied shoelaces, wayward toys, and spilled food scatter over the backgrounds while sometimes exasperated—but always adoring—parents pick up the pieces. With good-natured humor and a jaunty rhyme scheme perfect for reading aloud, Bently and Ogilvie’s spirited romp celebrates the love between chaotic kiddos and their steadfast parents.
Sometimes it seems parents are continually nagging children to brush their teeth, eat their peas, and so forth. British duo Bentley and Ogilvie joyously remind readers that parents are good for so much more! In deliciously rhyming text, readers are told of all of the wonderful things parents do, from giving cuddles to telling stories and tucking in at night. “Parents are sofas for putting your feet up, and Dumpsters for bits that you don’t want to eat up.” The charming and larger-than-life artwork enhances the humor as readers see parents of various ethnic backgrounds having grime wiped on them and doubling as donkeys and tree trunks to their children. The mixed-media illustrations will hit home with parents and children alike with the realistic messiness and bedraggled appearance of some of the adults. The combination of pastels, paint, and ink look whimsical and simplistic at the same time. Details enhance the text and will keep readers searching the pictures that match the words, such as the well-dressed lady with the purse dog who has had an ice-cream cone dropped on her foot by a little girl: “Parents say ‘sorry’ to folks who’ve just met you.” Sure to bring out the giggles at storytime or bedtime.