Solid—but never soars.

Fine feathered friends preen in this informational board book.

Somewhere between art book and early bird-watching guide, this board book introduces various avian factoids. Short, matter-of-fact sentences do an adequate job of conveying the most basic bird-related information. But while statements such as “birds have wings” or “most birds fly” are the right length for toddlers, they verge on clinical and dry. Although the surface-level information might satiate some young readers, inquisitive listeners may want to understand more deeply why “some birds are hard to see” or how exactly “birds are important to our world.” To some degree, the simple text seems an excuse to show off the elegant watercolor bird illustrations, repurposed from previous picture books by the Sills. With a single bird species per page situated on a meticulously accurate, full-bleed background of their habitat, birds soar, hunt, nest, and perch. John Sill illustrates birds from various vantage points and perspectives, including a bald eagle gliding above viewers and a tiny ovenbird face to beak with readers on the ground. Always, the respect for the natural world is apparent in the realistic colors and poses. Under the compelling art, a plain contrasting band of color holds the drab text (printed in a stiff, serif typeset that matches the text’s formal tone) along with a well-appreciated italicized identification of every species that’s shown.

Solid—but never soars. (Board book. 1-3 )

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-190-4

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020


From the Future Baby series

A book about engineering notable mostly for its illustrations of diverse characters. (Board book. 1-3)

Babies and engineers have more in common than you think.

In this book, Alexander highlights the unlikely similarities between babies and engineers. Like engineers, babies ask questions, enjoy building, and learn from their mistakes. Black’s bold, colorful illustrations feature diverse babies and both male- and female-presenting adult characters with a variety of skin tones and hair colors, effectively demonstrating that engineers can be any race or either gender. (Nonbinary models are a little harder to see.) The story ends with a reassurance to the babies in the book that “We believe in you!” presumably implying that any child can be an engineer. The end pages include facts about different kinds of engineers and the basic process used by all engineers in their work. Although the book opens with a rhythmic rhyming couplet, the remaining text lacks the same structure and pattern, making it less entertaining to read. Furthermore, while some of the comparisons between babies and engineers are both clever and apt, others—such as the idea that babies know where to look for answers—are flimsier. The book ends with a text-heavy spread of facts about engineering that, bereft of illustrations, may not hold children’s attention as well as the previous pages. Despite these flaws, on its best pages, the book is visually stimulating, witty, and thoughtful.

A book about engineering notable mostly for its illustrations of diverse characters. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31223-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019


A fun, new take on droppings.

Youngsters can learn about where and how various animals, domestic and wild, relieve themselves.

Via a pull-tab embedded in each recto (not, thankfully, in the rectum) readers can see the before and after, and a goldfish in a bowl leaves a trail while swimming. The verso asks each creature where it does its business, and then a (sometimes-forced) rhyming quatrain, translated from Italian, answers the question: “And where do YOU poop, mouse? / When inside my tummy / Starts to feel not so good / It’s time for a poop / On these chips made of wood!” The final double-page spread queries readers: “And where do YOU poop?” A redheaded, White toddler’s face is visible below this question; the pull-tab on the right opens a bathroom to reveal a White toddler, this time with medium brown hair, happily and modestly sitting on a blue toddler potty. The accompanying quatrain provides some developmentally appropriate guidance for feeling the signs of a movement coming on. Baruzzi’s art is droll and graphically clean (inasmuch as the depiction of excrement can be described that way). Little fingers may need some help finding the relatively easy-to-open and sturdy pull-tabs, since they blend into each page. It works as both a biology lesson and potty-training encouragement.  

A fun, new take on droppings. (Novelty board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66265-042-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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