This board book succinctly reinforces basic safety tenets and will appeal most to highly safety-conscious caregivers.

LET'S BE SAFE

From the Pull and Play series

Young anthropomorphic animals model basic safety rules with the help of interactive pull-tabs.

It isn’t easy keeping active little ones out of trouble, but this accessible board book models strategies to stay safe through short vignettes that serve as object lessons. Some—like hungry Little Monkey blowing on hot food before eating or Little Crocodile using the handrail while descending the stairway—demonstrate how toddlers can exercise agency over their own bodies. Others show that adults sometimes need to step in to help, as when Little Cat waits patiently to be removed from her highchair. The images underneath the smoothly operating pull-tabs visualize the safest course of action in each situation. Some adult readers will balk at how easily the child characters acquiesce to requests, and occasionally the book feels a little out of touch with its rather cosseting parental figures. Expressive, big-eyed cartoon animals do a thorough job of explaining and animating the scenes, and bright, saturated colors and minimal backgrounds keep the focus on the safety lessons.

This board book succinctly reinforces basic safety tenets and will appeal most to highly safety-conscious caregivers. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-2-40802-849-7

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

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. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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