Silly and slight—but the dog’s ability to ask the right questions is admirable.

ARE YOU A CAT?

A dog questions another animal’s assertion that it is not a cat.

“Why do you want to know if I’m a cat?” asks the black, feline-looking creature. “I’m a dog and dogs chase cats,” replies the self-identified dog, plump and orange-brown with black ears. The dog’s words appear throughout in a white font against the slate blue background of the pages, the enigmatic animal’s words in black. It denies being a cat and then claims, in succession, to be a bird, a squirrel, a butterfly, and a rabbit. The dog challenges the not-a-cat to do the things those animals do: fly, crack open a nut, land gently on a flower, hop down a hole. The back and forth of the dialogue becomes pleasantly predictable, with the contrary creature repeatedly responding to the dog’s knowledge about what other animals do with a bland “I knew that.” When a mouse appears, the dog shrewdly asks whether its interlocutor wants to chase it. The creature admits to wanting to chase the mouse and, yes, “I am a cat.” Muir’s simple, slightly abstract cartoon art gives both animals each broad personality along with an identifiable and amusing cast of minor characters. The butterfly and the rabbit, especially, look fairly alarmed as the cat tries to prove adept at uncatlike skills.

Silly and slight—but the dog’s ability to ask the right questions is admirable. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286594-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer.

PEPPA'S GIANT PUMPKIN

From the Peppa Pig series

Peppa hopes to join her classmates in a Halloween pumpkin competition in this adaptation of a story from the popular British television program Peppa Pig.

With the help of Granny and Grandpa Pig, Peppa turns her giant pumpkin, which is the size of a compact car, into a jack-o’-lantern. The trio is flummoxed when it comes time to transport the pumpkin to the competition, so they call on Miss Rabbit and her helicopter to airlift the pumpkin to the festivities as Peppa and her grandparents ride inside. Peppa arrives just in time for the contest and wins the prize for best flying pumpkin. The scenes look as if they are pulled directly from the television show, right down to the rectangular framing of some of the scenes. While the story is literally nothing new, the text is serviceable, describing the action in two to three sentences per page. The pumpkin-shaped book and orange foil cover will likely attract youngsters, whether they are Peppa fans or not.

This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-33922-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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