How To Cheer Up Dad has nabbed its second starred review, this time from Kirkus, the notoriously exclusive review company. This is reason to celebrate!
In Koehler’s picture-book debut, Little Jumbo repeatedly tries the patience of his dad but then does his best to make everything better. Before the story starts, readers know that Dad is in for it. The title page shows a slumbering, pajama-clad elephant about to be pounced on by his son, who is already in midair. On the copyright page, Dad rushes to stop the tyke from consuming a spoonful of paste. So readers will understand the opening line: “Little Jumbo’s dad was having a bad day.” The understated text is paired with the irrepressible son’s antics throughout, maintaining a constant level of hilarity. One spread’s matter-of-fact text reads, “Dad put raisins in Little Jumbo’s oatmeal. / He should have known what a mess that would make.” The accompanying illustration depicts spunky and joyous Little Jumbo standing on his chair and peppering the ceiling with a splatter of rejected raisins. Dad has had enough—the two elephants have a standoff trunk to trunk. One timeout later, the young elephant starts trying to change the mood of his father. From a hug to playing catch, sharing a huge ice cream cone, fishing and reading a bedtime story, Little Jumbo sincerely does his best to make up for his behavior—but the final page makes it clear that the challenges will continue tomorrow. Welcome Little Jumbo! We hope we’ll see more of you.