This book and its companions need more holiday sparkle and less everyday meh.


From the First Celebrations series

A bite-size exploration of Halloween hues.

A green-spotted caterpillar costume (worn by a black child), a blue balloon held by a white tot in a clown costume, orange pumpkins, and more are presented, each on its own double-page spread, to help little ones learn their colors. The two-dimensional art, which looks to be cut-paper collage, employs bold images with rounded shapes in highly saturated tones. With two unrhymed sentences per page, the text is simple and encourages interaction: "Say hello to these two white ghosts." The board book is shaped like a squat pumpkin, which serves the internal pages poorly. Hats, flashlight beams, and the moon are cropped at odd angles due to the book's protruding stem. This problem persists in the other two titles releasing simultaneously in the First Celebrations series. In Thanksgiving Counting, Mom's hair is strangely excised by the book's turkey contours, and an elf's hat is partially missing in Christmas Colors & Counting. While the Thanksgiving tale makes a nod to diversity with a family that has skin tones ranging from white to medium brown, some may find the inclusion of the Native American in stereotypical garb troubling. The Christmas offering of the series is the most successful, as it presents clear objects (candles, buttons on a gingerbread cookie, and reindeer noses) for little fingers to count.

This book and its companions need more holiday sparkle and less everyday meh. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58089-533-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Cute and sprightly but not a standout.


Deck the stalls?

A bevy of barnyard animals, a cat, and some dogs get fully into the Christmas spirit by sprucing up the farm with colorful decorations, including holly berries and sparkling baubles. They have a great time and sing while going about their merry chores in a manner somewhat in keeping with the rhythm of the classic tune “Deck the Halls.” (In fact, a flock of sheep are shown holding song sheets for it.) As might be expected with these particular celebrants, some of the familiar lyrics are altered just a bit; for instance, “boughs of holly” is “translated” as “cows and holly.” Adult readers expecting the rhythm here to work exactly as it does in the original will be disappointed, because it doesn’t—it’s clunky. This is merely a brief, lightweight spoof of the familiar ditty, so it’s recommended that grown-ups read rather than sing this—except for that final line!—to very young targeted audiences, who may be unfamiliar with the actual song anyway. Some fun is still to be had in the illustrations, however. The spirited, wittily expressive animal characters are depicted having a fine time romping about and producing a variety of onomatopoeic sounds throughout. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Cute and sprightly but not a standout. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66591-435-2

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Boynton Bookworks

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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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. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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