From the Learning With Llama Llama series

An invitation for readers to learn through observation.

Llama Llama and Mama spot different shapes at the farmers market.

Dewdney’s iconic llama stars in this board book, a part of the Learning With Llama Llama series. The story showcases five shapes: rectangles, squares, triangles, circles, and stars. Rather than simply showing the shapes and naming them, illustrator Morrow embeds them inside scenes from the farmers market. Each page turn uncovers a different shape. Signage and a shopping bag pop as rectangles, while umbrellas, a slice of watermelon, and the peaks of the tents form triangles. Shapes that appeared on previous pages are visible even as the story progresses, and the final page helps readers revisit and recall shapes they’ve already found. There are plenty of engaging details to keep readers looking, including other animal shoppers, kite-flying, and sudden, surprising rain. The text is concise, and each spread features a simple question inviting participation. This title is more captivating than other shape concept books, especially those that show block-colored shapes without context. Llama Llama’s popularity will make this a hit with fans, and readers looking for substance will find it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An invitation for readers to learn through observation. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-46509-7

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022


A joyful celebration.

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. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020


Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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