Appealing illustrations and minimal, repetitive text make this ideal for toddlers.

READ REVIEW

BLUE CAT

A cat engages in typical feline behavior before settling in for a snuggle.

Blue Cat smiles out from the cover. Blue Cat’s fur has a textured, almost stuccolike look, and the character’s edges are slightly blurred, creating a sense of softness. Inside, the illustrations have a collage-style appearance and folk-art feel. Some items in the pictures are textured like Blue Cat, others have crosshatching, both fine (the floor) and coarse (yarn balls). Still others, such as the wallpaper and curtains, are smooth, with small repeating patterns. These echo the designs on the front (floral) and back (hearts and cherries) endpapers. The brief text consists of short declarative sentences, most starting with “Blue Cat” and including just one other word: “Blue Cat lounges…stretches…swats,” etc. After taking a flying leap at the fish bowl and spending some time being petted (as the fish gives Blue Cat serious side-eye), Blue Cat hears something and takes off again. Readers will likely be surprised to discover that Blue Cat should more accurately be called Blue Kitten, as is clear in comparison with the much larger (bright red) Mama Cat. The brevity and predictability of the text suggest that this would be most suitable for toddlers. Older listeners might be happier with Kathi Appelt and Penelope Dullaghan’s more energetic and equally blue Max (Max Attacks, 2019).

Appealing illustrations and minimal, repetitive text make this ideal for toddlers. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63592-134-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: StarBerry Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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