Form has not followed function in this counting book.

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COUNT WITH ME 1 TO 10

Venezuelan artist Cáceres draws her inspiration from the depictions of animals featured in hand-woven baskets created by the Ye’kuana people of southern Venezuela.

The numbers one to 10 are represented by small, simplified depictions of animals found in this region; they are crafted so as to look as though they are woven, with a pixelated effect. The text consists only of the numbers, the corresponding numerals, and the name of the animal or animals depicted. The illustrations are attractive and clean, printed on soft brown and bright-colored backgrounds. However if the animals were not labeled, it is unlikely many readers would have any idea what they represent, and some of them nevertheless fail to convey anything recognizable outside this culture. The snake, arranged in right angles instead of sinuous curves, for instance, looks far more like a decorative border element than a snake and would be hard to interpret even for adults. The concept of animal designs woven in baskets created by Indigenous artists could be interesting in context, but when isolated from the medium in which they were created, they make little visual sense. Two illustrations include images in multiple orientations, which would be impossible to weave; thus they lose the cultural tie as well as intelligibility. There are so many other warm and visually engaging counting books out there, including Cynthia Weill’s Count Me in (2012), which uses Mexican folk art, it is hard to imagine why a parent or caregiver would be drawn to this one. Backmatter includes further information on Ye’kuana baskets and culture.

Form has not followed function in this counting book. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-892-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful.

EGGS ARE EVERYWHERE

An interactive egg hunt with turning-wheel and lift-the-flap elements.

This board book begins by directing readers to find the hidden eggs. Each wheel—there are four in all set into the interior pages—has several different eggs on it, and turning it reveals an egg in a little die-cut window. Spinning it further hides the egg behind one of two lift-the-flap panels—two baskets, for example—and readers must guess behind which they’ll find the egg they have chosen to track. A diagram on the back provides instructions for use, likely more helpful to caregivers than to little ones. There is no narrative in this book; it’s simply page after page of different directives along the lines of “Guess which door!” As a result, the focus is really on manipulatives and the illustrations. Fortunately, Kirwan’s spring-themed artwork is gorgeous. The backdrop of each page is flower- and leaf-themed with warm spring hues, echoing the artwork of Eastern European hand-stenciled Easter eggs, two of which appear at the end of the book. The animals, like the smiling snail and mischievous mice, are reminiscent of classic European fairy-tale creatures. The only human in the book is a dark-skinned child with tight, curly hair. The moveable pieces largely work, though at times the necessary white space under the flaps interrupts the illustration awkwardly, as when the child’s hands suddenly develop large oval holes if the spinner is not in the correct position. Overall, it’s more game than book.

There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7457-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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