HALLOWEEN COLORS

From the First Celebrations series

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

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. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

THE ABCS OF LOVE

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

SMILE, POUT-POUT FISH

An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to.

This simplified version of Diesen and Hanna’s The Pout-Pout Fish (2008) is appropriate for babies and toddlers.

Brief, rhyming text tells the story of a sullen fish cheered up with a kiss. A little pink sea creature pokes his head out of a hole in the sea bottom to give the gloomy fish some advice: “Smile, Mr. Fish! / You look so down // With your glum-glum face / And your pout-pout frown.” He explains that there’s no reason to be worried, scared, sad or mad and concludes: “How about a smooch? / And a cheer-up wish? // Now you look happy: / What a smile, Mr. Fish!” Simple and sweet, this tale offers the lesson that sometimes, all that’s needed for a turnaround in mood is some cheer and encouragement to change our perspective. The clean, uncluttered illustrations are kept simple, except for the pout-pout fish’s features, which are delightfully expressive. Little ones will easily recognize and likely try to copy the sad, scared and angry looks that cross the fish’s face.

An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-37084-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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