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A delightful addition to the new-baby shelf.

Cats Minouche, Pasha, and Amir share a home with Myriam and Sami, who are expecting a new baby.

Black Pasha looks serious and “regal”; gray tiger Minouche is shy, possibly because she was rescued from the streets; and Siamese Amir is interested in everything. They play and lounge around all day in the rooms and around the courtyard of the traditional Arab house where they live. Middle Eastern design is ambient around them, in furniture, decorations, and the family’s clothes. Slowly, the cats’ favorite place to snuggle, Myriam’s belly, starts to expand. One day, it even moves! After their guardians disappear for a few days and come back with a pretty basket, the three cats are super curious. What could be inside? In one particularly comical spread, a curious Amir stands on the head of a grumpy-looking Minouche, trying to peer through the keyhole into the room where Myriam has taken the basket. When the door is finally opened, a close-up painting of the pets looking dubiously at two pudgy feet clearly communicates how they are feeling about the newcomer. Grandma reassures them: “Say hello to Alya.…Myriam will take care of you and the baby too. To love is to share.” The cats remain nervous but eventually grow “calm and confident again,” and even find new pastimes that include the baby in their “life full of love and tenderness.”

A delightful addition to the new-baby shelf. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-2-89802-236-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CrackBoom! Books

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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