Equal parts art and riddle and sophisticated in content and tone, this board book takes readers in unexpected directions....

VEHICLES HIDE AND SNEAK

With its opening words: “One of these things is almost like the others,” this striking, near-wordless book challenges readers to identify which object among a set of vehicles does not quite belong.

Composed of magenta, vibrant blue, and dark-purple stenciled images, the stylized vehicles and one imposter pop off each double-page spread, contrasting luminously with the white background. Thick cardboard pages with a silky texture and a slightly oversize trim add to the luxurious feel. Contraire has done a phenomenal job making the “sneaks” look so similar—who would have thought a honeybee could look so incredibly at home in a collection of helicopters? Each clever choice of misplaced object provokes thoughtful discussion on categorization. The artist plays with scale by placing an oversized baby stroller in a group of trucks, asking readers to puzzle out that while all have wheels and provide transport, one lacks a motor. A few pages aren’t so much brain teasers as they are whimsical fun, with an incongruent caterpillar inching along beside rows of trains or a toaster hidden among buses. The endpapers provide an answer key, a satisfying touch that ties the book together.

Equal parts art and riddle and sophisticated in content and tone, this board book takes readers in unexpected directions. Readers will want this book to “sneak” into their collections. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7516-3

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside.

EIGHT JOLLY REINDEER

Readers can count down eight of Santa's reindeer as they jump up and out of the scene. 

In each one of the mostly double-page spreads, one reindeer, from Dasher to Blitzen, plays a central role in a winter activity (sledding, ski jumping, ice skating—and soccer and yoga?) that launches the creature into the air. Glitter-speckled tabs, each with small portraits of a member of Santa's herd, appear at either the top or the right side of each page, which little fingers will enjoy flipping. In what looks to be pencil-and-watercolor cartoons, Rogers uses different facial expressions, as well as collars, bows or other accessories, to distinguish the reindeer from one another. Donner (not Donder) and Blitzen are squeezed together on the penultimate spread, likely to keep the page count down. The verse mostly scans, but the rhyme scheme has become the cliché of counting books: "Eight jolly reindeer / stretching up to heaven. / Up goes Dasher / and then there are... // Seven...." Santa, his iconic sleigh and the eight reindeer in flight make a dramatic and required appearance on the book's final double-page spread. 

As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-65145-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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