Despite the flaws, these colorful and shapely vehicles will appeal to the target audience.

AWAY WE GO!

A SHAPE-AND-SEEK BOOK

Shaped die-cut holes adorn a wide range of vehicles.

The basic forms—square, circle and triangle—are represented here, along with the more rare diamond, oval and heart. The featured shape on each page is a key element on one vehicle, like the triangular sail of a sailboat or the circular wheel of a tractor. Each vehicle gets its own page and is accompanied by a simple caption. Some of the shape and vehicle pairings are clever, such as the octagon doubling as the body of the cement mixer, but a few feel a little forced—in particular, the star as the front of the motorcycle, a visually baffling composition. The left-hand page of each double-page spread asks the reader a direct question (“Do you see a rectangle?”). Floating alongside the text is a small image of the shape, but the die-cut hole always appears on the facing page. Urban often uses several shapes to create the vehicles, and the die-cut holes are layered together, so more than one shape is visible. This makes this “shape-and-seek” game a bit more challenging than many. Bold, solid backgrounds offer a clean, graphic look, but several scenes look a little sparse, since the die-cut holes force the hand of the artist in terms of placement and layout. 

Despite the flaws, these colorful and shapely vehicles will appeal to the target audience. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-46179-5

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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