Simple text and charming illustrations make this an appealing introduction to some of the world’s many languages and...


Intrepid Hippo travels the world, making new friends everywhere he lands.

Simple declarative statements introduce children to greetings in eight languages. They learn that to say hello, Hippo “says ‘Bonjour!’ in France.” He says “Privyet!” in Russia, “Al Salaamu Alaykum!” in Egypt, “Namaste!” in India, “Ni hao!” in China, “Konnichiwa!” in Japan and “¡Hola!” in Argentina. Pronunciation help is provided in brackets below the primary text. Each illustration features Hippo greeting friends in a setting evocative of the particular country he’s visiting. For example, he sits at a cafe table with the Eiffel Tower in the background in France and perches atop a cheery elephant next to a fountain in a courtyard in India. Perpetually smiling Hippo is decked out in a green striped shirt and orange shorts and accompanied by a tiny, bright red bird. At the end, “Hippo’s Travel Map!” shows red stars marking all the places Hippo has visited as he waves jauntily from the old-fashioned plane he pilots across the page. In the companion title, How Gator Says Good-bye!, Gator visits the same countries Hippo does, only he is shown saying goodbye instead of hello, and the featured scene for each country is different.

Simple text and charming illustrations make this an appealing introduction to some of the world’s many languages and cultures. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0820-3

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A forgettable tale.


Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Fun format; bland text.


From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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