Ultimately mostly just humbug


From the Lit for Little Hands series

A retelling of the seasonal Dickens tale, complete with movable parts.

It’s tempting to want to share classics with children, and this board book pulls out all the stops to make the time-honored tale palatable to young listeners. Putting aside its sliders and spinners (none of which work very well), there stands the question of whether small children really need this book. Although the complex story has been decently condensed and simplified, it remains long and wordy to read aloud. This puts it well out of the realm of tolerance for the board-book crowd, though it may suit as an introduction for those elementary-aged kids who won’t be put off by the babyish format. Direct quotes sprinkled throughout are appropriate and iconic, but the story has an intensity simply not suited for the audience. High-level concepts and vocabulary are referenced, requiring so much preexisting knowledge (of boarding schools; spirits; the eventuality of death) that most of it will go over the heads of younger readers. Attractive vintage-style art looks swell and capitalizes on the best scenes, including a truly “scrumptious feast,” a not-too-spooky Jacob Marley, and a sprightly Ghost of Christmas Past, but the ambitious paper engineering does not work well. Slats and tabs are nearly impossible to pull out smoothly, while the wheels are hard to grip and turn.

Ultimately mostly just humbug .(Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64170-151-8

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon.


This bedtime book offers simple rhymes, celebrates the numbers one through 10, and encourages the counting of objects.

Each double-page spread shows a different toddler-and-caregiver pair, with careful attention to different skin tones, hair types, genders, and eye shapes. The pastel palette and soft, rounded contours of people and things add to the sleepy litany of the poems, beginning with “Goodnight, one fork. / Goodnight, one spoon. / Goodnight, one bowl. / I’ll see you soon.” With each number comes a different part in a toddler’s evening routine, including dinner, putting away toys, bathtime, and a bedtime story. The white backgrounds of the pages help to emphasize the bold representations of the numbers in both written and numerical forms. Each spread gives multiple opportunities to practice counting to its particular number; for example, the page for “four” includes four bottles of shampoo and four inlaid dots on a stool—beyond the four objects mentioned in the accompanying rhyme. Each home’s décor, and the array and types of toys and accoutrements within, shows a decidedly upscale, Western milieu. This seems compatible with the patronizing author’s note to adults, which accuses “the media” of indoctrinating children with fear of math “in our country.” Regardless, this sweet treatment of numbers and counting may be good prophylaxis against math phobia.

The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Out of all the titles in the series, Goldilocks’ adventures are the most cogent and age-appropriate.


From the Les Petit Fairytales series

The flaxen-haired tyke makes her infamous visit to the bears’ house in this simplified adaptation.

The classic story is told with minimal text, one or two words per double-page spread. Goldilocks uses speech bubbles to describe the porridge, chairs and beds (“Too hot. / Too cold. / Just right”). The bears look bemused when they find the girl snoozing in Baby Bear’s bed, and they offer an amicable and winsome goodbye when she dashes off. The richly colored cartoons, likely created with the aid of a computer, present friendly-looking characters with oversize heads. The companion release is a stripped-down version of “Little Red Riding Hood” following the same format and style, right down to the sparkly heroine’s outfit and glittery letters employed on the cover. Youngsters unfamiliar with the story may need adult help to understand that the friendly, cross-dressing wolf has actually swallowed Grandma, since all the readers see is a “Woodsman” examining the wolf’s teeth and then sending the predator away in shame.

Out of all the titles in the series, Goldilocks’ adventures are the most cogent and age-appropriate. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9912-6

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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