A misfire.

READ REVIEW

QUIET AS A MOUSE

AND OTHER ANIMAL IDIOMS

Little readers learn some animal idioms.

Caregivers know the phrases “sly as a fox” and “blind as a bat,” and this board book tries its best to introduce these and other animal idioms to little readers. The resulting read is a disjointed affair: an extreme close-up of a minimally detailed, black-and-white animal’s face takes up one full page on recto, while the opposite page offers simple, rhyming clues to the animal idiom. When readers turn the page they are greeted with a full, detailed, full-color view of the animal. Although the facial features from the previous page are printed on its verso, the relationship between minimalist and full-color versions will be hazy at best to a board-book audience. The initial views purposely give little clue to the creature’s identity, and given the audience’s limited experience, the textual clues aren’t much help either. “Quick and cheeky, / smart and sneaky. / I’m sly as a… / Fox.” While the book succeeds in introducing new vocabulary, it does so in such a decontextualized way that toddlers are unlikely to be able to make use of it. Die-cut peek-through holes (an ox’s nostrils; the joint of a clam’s shell) provide some continuity but seem more gimmick than anything else.

A misfire. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2505-7

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Useful for toddling birders in need of board books about colors.

BABY'S FIRST BOOK OF BIRDS & COLORS

Gorgeous birds amid foliage of similar hues introduce eight basic colors.

The two birds presented on each spread not only are of similar coloration, but also live in the same North American habitat. A scarlet tanager and a cardinal, both male, perch in a red maple tree; a male Eastern bluebird and a blue jay appear with morning glories and blueberries. The name of each color is printed in large font, while the name of each bird is in a much smaller one. Whether the bird shown is male or female, or if the male and female have similar coloring, is also indicated. The names of the trees they perch upon are identified in a note on the back cover. These details will be lost on most toddlers, but caregivers will appreciate being able to answer questions knowledgeably. Colors featured are from the standard box of crayons, except that pink is substituted for purple. Black and white share a spread. The cover image, of a cardinal, goldfinch, and bluebird in a birdbath, is not nearly as inviting as the images within. The final spread shows children (one white, one black, one Asian) assembling a puzzle that includes the same birds. This may serve as a reprise but will probably be skipped over. Bird-loving readers will probably feel that the space could have been put to better use by giving white birds their own page or adding a purple martin.

Useful for toddling birders in need of board books about colors. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-742-6

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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For very young children already buggy for bugs. (Board book. 1-3)

BUGS!

From the DR. Books series

There’s plenty of information and instruction crammed into this 5 ½-inch-square board book.

Hutton starts with the opening lines of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” leaving blanks to indicate where readers should fill in key words. Caregivers of toddlers who do not know the song will need to supply the words until their children are familiar enough with it to play the game. On the third page the tone shifts to conversational questioning, providing a model of dialogic reading. The adult reader speaks directly to the child: “Did you just see a bug? What kind of bug was it?…Was it BIG or small? Inside or outside?” The next six pages continue in that vein, providing information in response to the questions. Pages 11 and 12 refer to the rhyme again: “What’s that spider doing? Yes, it’s climbing! Climbing up a water spout! Climbing up a water spout at Grandpa’s house!” This method of repetition and expansion on an idea is excellent practice for beginning readers, but again, toddlers may need time to adjust. The final spread returns to a question likely to engage toddlers, with no practice necessary: “What’s your favorite kind of bug?” Colorful illustrations in shades of blue, green, and brown are only semirealistic; they emphasize a friendly look instead of a creepy one, potentially disappointing for young entomologists fascinated by the real thing.

For very young children already buggy for bugs. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-936669-80-6

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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