Hard to swallow.



Kids will enjoy this test of their powers of observation in this German import via New Zealand, but caregivers may cringe at the devil-may-care approach to choking hazards.

Author/illustrator Damm’s The Visitor earned her a Best Illustrated Book nod from the New York Times in 2018. This book, unfortunately, though playful in intent, is muddled. The artwork is wonderful—the protagonist, a hungry little wolf, has an abundance of personality, and he stands out against the bright, monochromatic backgrounds. Each facing page features three shelves of his “toys,” as they’re described on the back of the book. They include a duck, an apple, a fish, a cactus, a car, a fly, a bird, and a cat. The wolf, “feeling a bit peckish today,” eats one unspecified item at a time. With each turn of the page, young readers are challenged to identify which item is missing, and they will likely squeal with delight as they do. Caregivers who’ve had to yell, “Don’t put that in your mouth!” or wrestle a choking hazard from the jaws of a toddler may be less amused. If this sparks a “Can you really eat that?” conversation, perhaps that’s all to the good. Kids will also enjoy a bit of potty humor—all that eating occasions a quick trip to the bathroom—and a climactic puke scene, as the titular housefly proves one morsel too many

Hard to swallow. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-776572-80-9

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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


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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A fishy tale that doesn't quite swim in the crowded sea of concept books


From the My Little World series

A mix of marine-life fact and fiction introduces opposites.

With its iconic shape, the eye-catching cover cutout of a bright-orange fish is instantly appealing. Layered die cuts of decreasing size provide texture and handholds for little fingers and form the bodies of varying species of fish. Information about fish habits and habitats is crammed into wordy rhymes with the opposing terms in boldface, but the accuracy of those facts is debatable. Though it’s fair to call the eel “long and very wiggly,” contrasting it with a generic, short yellow fish that’s a rhyme-forced “giggly” introduces a jarring anthropomorphism. In fact, stereotypical human emotions or motivations are attributed to the fish on almost every page. On another page, the slow fish (the only fish not painted with a smile) says, “Even with a big head start, I knew I'd finish last”—a distressingly defeatist message in an otherwise cheery board book. Inexplicably, the final spread depicts all the fish in party hats—turning it into a birthday book. While this may extend its use in day cares, it doesn't help young children learn opposites.

A fishy tale that doesn't quite swim in the crowded sea of concept books . (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58925-215-8

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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