A sweetly simple bedtime book with a reassuring message.

GOODNIGHT BOB

A young child’s bedtime anxiety is quelled as familiar friends take turns saying goodnight.

Tucked in bed with a flashlight, Bob looks out the window to a crescent Moon, who smiles down and says, “Goodnight Bob.” Alone in the dark, Bob sees two round, white eyes glow, and when he shines his flashlight, Fish appears in his bowl and also says goodnight. This pattern repeats as each successive pair of white eyes in the dark turns into a cat, dog, mouse, Bigfoot (outside the window), and the stars in the night sky. The simple, predictable text will have children chiming in quickly: “Bob saw two eyes. / It was Dog. ‘Goodnight Bob,’ said Dog. / Bob saw two eyes. / It was Mouse. ‘Goodnight Bob,’ said Mouse.” Finally settled in and with eyes closed, Bob is asleep as the moon and stars give another goodbye and the footprints of Bigfoot recede down the path from the house. The simplicity of this repetitive story is accentuated by the primitive cartoonish pastel drawings in primary colors. Bob is a very young Charlie Brown–type figure with light skin, two dotted eyes, a circle nose,  and four bristly lines for hair atop his very round head. Bold white text against a dark blue nocturnal background facilitates repeat reads.

A sweetly simple bedtime book with a reassuring message. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3003-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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It’s got high visual appeal, but don’t count on the text to deliver.

THE MERMAID COUNTING BOOK

A young mermaid encounters different sea creatures in this rhyming, counting board book.

The book opens with a mother-and-daughter mermaid pair, both White-presenting, setting off on an adventure. After spotting two octopuses, curious Umi continues her discoveries solo, inviting readers to count (among other things) pearls, seahorses, and, at the end of the busy day, the stars visible in the sky. As the book progresses, the number of objects and animals increases from one to 10. The rhyming stanzas are basic, keeping a nice cadence, but there is also little surprising or creative within this familiar format. Diederen’s illustrations are the highlight, done in a pleasing and unusual palette of coral and salmon, set off with teal and even darker blues. These are a welcome change for readers well used to bright and bold neons in similar board books, though the low contrast suits this book to older toddlers. Umi looks young and charming in what looks like a full-body mermaid suit (as opposed to Mommy’s traditional shell bra and skin midriff), and the ocean’s creatures—even the often frightening angler fish—are equally darling and friendly. There’s one large plot hole, however: Where does Umi’s mother go, and why is Umi alone for most of the day? Readers might notice the flick of Mommy’s fin as she swims out of the frame, but there is never an explanation. Perhaps this is something lost in the uncredited translation from the original Dutch. Thank goodness little readers find a mother-daughter reunion of hugs and kisses at the end.

It’s got high visual appeal, but don’t count on the text to deliver. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-60537-583-0

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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While the book may prove a frustrating search-and-find experience for little ones, youngsters will enjoy the familiar...

NEW YORK CITY MONSTERS

A SEARCH-AND-FIND BOOK

From the City Monsters series

Friendly monsters play a game of hide-and-seek with readers among the landmarks of New York City.

On each double-page spread, readers are invited to search for the critters and take in the sights of the city. A gray, amoeba-shaped varmint sits camouflaged against the sea lions’ rocks of the Central Park Zoo; googly-eyed creatures ensconce themselves between Manhattan towers; a speckled, neck-tie–wearing monster spooks ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. In every scene, a one-eyed, red beastie wielding a telescope indicates how many monsters there are to find, usually six to eight. While this critter is not to be counted, its presence may confuse literal toddlers, who may use it in their enumerations. Some of the creatures are quite difficult to find even for grown-ups, particularly the monsters who look like people and a hellion shaped like the flame of the Statue of Liberty’s torch. Many of the landmarks are highly identifiable, and the city scenes are surprisingly authentic despite the presence of the friendly fiends. The minimal text, nestled in the opposite corner from the counting prompt, labels the sights and shares a little more about the monstrous visitors. The companion titles in the City Monsters series, Chicago Monsters and San Francisco Monsters, follow the same format.

While the book may prove a frustrating search-and-find experience for little ones, youngsters will enjoy the familiar scenes, whether they be residents or recent visitors. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-2-924734-02-5

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Chouette

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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