FEELINGS

From the Pull and Play series

A well-constructed toy book, though its narrative might leave readers with mixed feelings.

In this French import, little animals experience big emotions, but by talking about feelings and with a little help from a pull-tab, the situations turn around.

Depicting familiar problems that will resonate with a toddler audience, each illustration uses a sturdy pull-tab to transition from the child’s dilemma to the resolution. Adult characters nicely model helping children navigate emotional moments, with one particularly successful page showing a small bear clinging to his mother, frightened of a dog. Mommy coaxes him forward, and with a pull of the tab, readers see the bear comfortably greeting the pup; it’s a gratifyingly presented miniature drama. Excellent pages, though, share the book with ho-hum ones: An “excited” little monkey’s only action is packing his backpack, an underwhelming visual change, and a toddler kangaroo (that looks a lot like a bunny) declaring himself “disgusted” seems like a linguistic stretch. Children will enjoy the tabs, which are seamless in their transition from scene to scene. Vintage 1970s-inspired cartoon animals have dramatic faces that clearly inform readers how they feel, though the animals lean closer to quirky than cute. At times, the translation feels stiff, and the dialogue’s reliance on treacly pet names—not to mention the downright cloying ending of “I love ice cream, Daddy! But I love you more”—seems contrived.

A well-constructed toy book, though its narrative might leave readers with mixed feelings. (Board book. 18 mos.-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40800-792-8

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

FAMILIES BELONG

A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

Wonderful, indeed

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A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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