Tries to do too much and doesn’t quite succeed.


From the Tabbed Touch-and-Feel series

With the help of farm-animal friends, three little chicks bake their mother a cake and save it from ruin.

In this tactile board book, baby chickens Penny, Polly, and Molly are determined to show their love for Mama by baking her a cake. Other baby farm animals get in on the action, helping haul supplies and decorate the cake. When the enormous cake nearly topples, the chicks come up with a way to keep it intact, demonstrating to Mama both their love and their quick thinking. What’s unclear from the story is what makes these three chicks the titular “tough.” They’re certainly quick, innovative, and persistent, but beyond the cutesy play on words, it doesn’t mean much. The book includes various touch-and-feel elements: a fluffy foal’s tail and a fun-to-touch sticky spot of cake frosting. There are, however, unnecessary tabs on the right-hand side of the book. A little mouse appears before each page turn with reader-participation questions. “Can you moooo like a calf?” it asks. These mostly work, but they’re not needed. Suber’s illustrations are sweet, the animals cartoonish. They help explain and move the story along, particularly showing how the cake is saved at the end. Mostly there is just too much: tabs, flaps, participatory directions, touch-and-feel elements. Less would have been more.

Tries to do too much and doesn’t quite succeed. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-358-12653-9

Page Count: 12

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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


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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An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver.


The farmyard's chickens experience Halloween.

A round, full moon shines in the sky, and the chickens of Boynton's barnyard are feeling “nervous.” Pumpkins shine “with flickering eyes,” witches and wizards wander the pastures, and one chicken has seen “a mouse of enormous size.” It’s Halloween night, and readers will delight as the chickens huddle together and try to figure out what's going on. All ends well, of course, and in Boynton's trademark silly style. (It’s really quite remarkable how her ranks of white, yellow-beaked chickens evoke rows of candy corn.) At this point parents and children know what they're in for when they pick up a book by the prolific author, and she doesn't disappoint here. The chickens are silly, the pigs are cute, and the coloring and illustrations evoke a warmth that little ones wary of Halloween will appreciate. For children leery of the ghouls and goblins lurking in the holiday's iconography, this is a perfect antidote, emphasizing all the fun Halloween has to offer.

An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-9300-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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