This well-intentioned but overambitious book has too many ingredients to create a delectable whole.

A IS FOR ARTICHOKE

A FOODIE ALPHABET FROM ARTICHOKE TO ZEST

America’s Test Kitchen presents 26 facts about food and cookery for aspiring chefs.

Designed as a multileveled text intended to grow with its reader and laid out one letter per page, the book first presents a statement in a large typeface: “K is for Kumquats.” A short explanation that “Kumquats are tiny citrus fruits” follows in smaller type, and this is succeeded by a long, expository paragraph in even tinier print. Combined, it makes an overwhelmingly print-heavy page. Writing for young foodies is a tasty concept, but the book’s ingredients don’t quite meld. There are pages among the esoteric mix of food and cooking techniques detailing familiar items such as “oven” or “vanilla,” but too many cover topics far too sophisticated for the audience. Few toddlers will grasp that “Umami” enhances taste or that lox “is cured but not smoked.” Older foodies may appreciate the material but not the board-book format, and all readers may find the clinical tone, like an unbrined turkey, to be a little dry. Digitally collaged illustrations gamely make the subject as much fun as possible, with lively faces plastered on food and utensils and vibrant colors to make the tasty morsels pop. Dashes of wit spice things up, such as a peppermint leaf soaking in a hot mug of water, spa candles and fuzzy slippers at the ready. A simultaneously publishing companion, 123 the Farm and Me, shares both approach and flaws.

This well-intentioned but overambitious book has too many ingredients to create a delectable whole. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7003-2

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging.

NOISY DIGGER

From the I Can Learn! series

This noisy board book is designed to thrill tots fascinated with all things construction.

A tactile backhoe digger is center stage on each of the five cutout pages, complete with flaps. Brief rhyming text describes the machine’s actions as it works throughout the day. Animal characters engaged in manual labor or operating other machinery—a bulldozer, crane, road roller, and dump truck—describe more work that goes on at a construction site in small speech bubbles. Finding the mouse in every scene adds to the fun. On each page, a little bird sporting a hard hat invites young builders to press various parts of the silicone digger to activate a range of distinct sounds. The digger’s track pad sounds different from the sound of its arm moving dirt. The problem is that the digger itself is passive; the track pad and arm don’t actually move. The machine stays in the same place on every spread. The caution light beeps but doesn’t light up. Savvy kids will quickly realize that all the sounds are accessible from the first spread without having to turn the pages. The sound is the most engaging part of the book, but with only five sounds, this feature won’t hold most youngsters’ attention for long.

A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging. (Novelty board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-684-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Satisfying, engaging, and sure to entertain the toddlers at whom it is aimed.

CIRCLE UNDER BERRY

Nine basic shapes in vivid shifting colors are stacked on pages in various permutations.

This visually striking and carefully assembled collection of shapes, which seems to have been inspired by an Eric Carle aesthetic, invites young children to put their observation, categorization, problem-solving, color, and spatial-relation skills to work, pondering shapes and compositions—and even learning about prepositions in the process. As the text says, “a stack of shapes can make you think and wonder what you see.” First, readers see a circle under a strawberry (the red diamond with a leafy, green top and yellow-triangle seeds) and then that berry over a green square. The orange oval made to look like a fish is added to a stack of three shapes to become “yellow over diamond under guppy over green.” And so on. The metamorphosis of many of these simple shapes into animals (a yellow circle becomes a lion; a green square, a frog; a pink heart, a pig; a yellow diamond, a chicken) will surprise and delight children. Questions are directed at readers: Is a square with two round eyes and semicircle feet a “frog or square or green?” Why, all of the above! The text possesses a pleasing rhythm and subtle rhymes, positively begging to be read aloud: “circle next to berry / square by bear by sweet // blue up high / pig down low / yellow in between.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Satisfying, engaging, and sure to entertain the toddlers at whom it is aimed. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-79720-508-3

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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