Fun and instructive, this forest frolic will have kids eager to play along.

WHERE'S BABY?

In a hiding game led by Baby Fox, Papa Fox searches the forest for his little one but neglects to look in one obvious place.

Not finding his offspring indoors in their den, Papa Fox asks Mama where Baby might be, and she responds: “Why, Baby must be somewhere, Papa Fox.” Papa heads out to find Baby and looks in, over, under, down, up, and around, encountering owl, skunk, bear, mouse, toothy fish, and bull—but no Baby Fox. Disheartened, Papa says, “Mama Fox, I can’t find Baby anywhere.” She responds knowingly, “Have you looked behind you, Papa Fox?” Readers will have seen that Mama has been in on the joke all along if they noticed, early on, Mama waving goodbye to Baby, who is quietly following Papa as he sets off on his search. The text is entirely composed of dialogue in speech balloons. Graceful, finely sketched pen-and-pencil drawings, primarily in black and gray against a pale blue backdrop, complement this exercise in identifying prepositions. Kids will play along with Baby, easily spotting his pointy ears and rusty-orange body, which pops against the otherwise muted palette. Reunited with Papa, Baby Fox asks, “Can we do that again?”—encouraging multiple readings of this amusing story.

Fun and instructive, this forest frolic will have kids eager to play along. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6498-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.

FIVE BLACK CATS

A troop of cats traverse a spooky landscape as they make their way to a party hosted by ghosts.

Each double-page spread shows the felines’ encounters with the likes of an owl, jack-o’-lanterns or a bat. One or two of these creepy meetings may be too abstract for the youngest readers, as the cats hear eerie noises with no discernible source on the page. The text, which consists of one rhyming couplet per scene, mostly scans despite a couple of wobbles: “Five black cats get a bit of a scare / As the flip-flapping wings of a bat fill the air.” The sleek, slightly retro art, likely created using a computer, depicts the cats cavorting at night through a shadowy cityscape, the countryside and a haunted house; they may scare some toddlers and delight others. A brighter color palette would have given the project a friendlier, more universal appeal. Luckily, the well-lit, final party scene provides a playful conclusion.

For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-611-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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