With only five double-page spreads, the book may feel on the pricey side, but little fingers will enjoy opening these...

BIG RED BARN

Matt the Cat searches for a little gray mouse in five locations on the farm in this lift-the-flap offering with an embedded sound chip.

Matt looks for breakfast in the stable, pigsty, duck pond, and cowshed with no success. In each of these encounters, Matt poses the query “Have you seen a little gray mouse?” via speech bubble. Readers can lift up the flap in each double-page scene to reveal a horse, piglets, a duck with four ducklings, and a cow with calf respectively. On the final two-page spread, Matt finds the mouse in the henhouse cooking his breakfast and not, to everyone’s relief, becoming breakfast. When each flap and the sliding panel on the cover are opened, light-activated sensors trigger the sound chip enclosed in the back cover, and each animal makes it signature sound. The back page, which includes a small compartment to replace the battery, encourages readers to use the book in good light or the sound chip won’t activate. In true DK fashion, clear photos of each featured animal encourage recognition. All the backgrounds, along with Matt, the mouse, and a few farm accessories, are drawn in simple and bright two-dimensional cartoons.

With only five double-page spreads, the book may feel on the pricey side, but little fingers will enjoy opening these playfully noisy flaps as long as the battery holds out—or as long as their caregivers can take it. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4654-6313-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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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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