Expect oohs and aahs when planted at a baby shower.

I HAVE A LITTLE SEEDLING

From the New Books for Newborns series

Newborns and toddlers will miss this gentle board book’s subtleties, but new moms will get the message: Babies grow all too quickly.

Meister mimics the rhythm and rhyme of the old nursery song about catkins, “I Have a Little Pussy,” to describe a seedling’s growth. Consistent syllable counts and unforced rhymes make the four-line stanzas read smoothly. Meanwhile the illustrations show both a seedling and a baby growing up. A patient gray pussycat on each spread observes their progress and echoes the pussy willows of the origin rhyme. The story starts on the cover. A mom cuddling a blanket-wrapped baby sits in a swing hung from a mature tree. Over the course of five verses spread over 14 pages, the titular seedling is planted, tended, and grows into a sapling as the baby goes from sleeping newborn to preschool child reading independently under that sapling. In between are playful images of the growing baby pulling the cat’s tail, toddling in a rainstorm, “helping” pull weeds near the seedling, and pushing the cat in a cart. Elements in the illustrations suggest growth and seasonal changes. The baby’s onesie has tiny leaves; the toddler’s shorts have slightly larger leaves; the child’s book cover and T-shirt are decorated with trees. The final illustration of the mother pushing the child in the swing under the blooming tree brings the story full circle. Both mother and child have pale skin.

Expect oohs and aahs when planted at a baby shower. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1002-2

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

THE ABCS OF LOVE

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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