Father/son construction projects have never been more tender.




Charlie and his dad build sand castles, bridges, towers, and more together.

The duo, both of whom are white, live in the suburbs and build a variety of structures, from Lego garages for toy cars to play “igloos” in winter to a doghouse for pet Rocky, both indoors and out. Charlie’s friends, who also appear to be white, get in on the action and jump into a pile of autumn leaves his dad has collected. Each double-page spread offers one-half of a serviceable, rhymed couplet describing Charlie’s constructions. The standout here is Bianchini’s cheerfully retro, thick-lined art, done in muted greens, blues, and reds. Charlie clearly loves all his projects, and his dad obviously dotes on the boy. The final spread shows the pair enjoying their “favorite building,” a blanket/pillow fort where they can share a book (appropriately titled Big Buildings) together.

Father/son construction projects have never been more tender. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2540-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Leave these penguins on the ice.


As the title implies, a counting book set at the zoo.

Starting with “ten playful penguins, living in the zoo,” forced rhymes count down in reverse as the penguins meet zoo animals: elephants, chimps, hippos, a bear, parrots, pandas, seals, and a zebra (unnamed but described as “stripy”). With each encounter, one stays to play with that animal. The penguins meet only eight animals, which may confuse some readers, as one remains in the rookery in order to prepare a feast because “she’s so good and kind!” (Really, the one who cooks is female?) The penguins are cute—raised plastic forms peeking through die-cut windows—but the slight story and cartoonish illustrations are trying too hard to match their appeal. The pictures add little new information, and the text attributes human characteristics to several of the animals. (Hippos don't take bubble baths.) The second couplet on each spread, “ ‘Penguins, stay and have some fun.’  / ‘Yes, please!’ says another one,” is meant to provide a predictable refrain but is wordy for young children and scans poorly for adults who must read this to them. The last page has the best illustrations, though why the penguins now sport hats and drink from stemware is unclear. Adding to the book’s woes, Arabic numerals are nowhere to be found.

Leave these penguins on the ice. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-79439-8

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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