Whimsy and hidden objects add much to the appeal of this month-by-month journey.

GREGORY THE SPIDER

ROMPING THROUGH THE YEAR

Gregory the Spider invites kids to follow him through the calendar and learn what’s special about each month in this children’s picture book.

Last seen in the background to illustrations in Meyer’s Merry Stirring Mice: Santa’s Secret Team (2014), Gregory the Spider returns to star in a book of his own. Through the 12 months of the year, friendly Gregory and his pals—including a white human family and a mouse family—explore what’s special about each month. In January, for example, on an icy day, a book on Martin Luther King Jr. pokes out of a child’s backpack; inside a house, a girl kneels by the window with a warm drink in her hand, and outside, a mouse pair ice-skates on a puddle. Each page offers I-Spy animals, objects, and month names to notice or find hidden in the illustrations, possibly woven into Gregory’s web. A checklist is appended with some explanations. For example, a humpback whale and her baby are shown in August, that month being the best time to see them on the U.S. East Coast. Another nice recurring feature are children’s backpacks, which often have month-related books visible, such as one on MLK for January. The illustrations are well-detailed, colorful, and appealing, and although most human characters are white, there is a gesture toward diversity in the December scene, which shows cookies for Santa and an Elf on the Shelf, but also a dreidel.

Whimsy and hidden objects add much to the appeal of this month-by-month journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-93954-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Book Baby

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2017

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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An unabashed love letter from mother.

I LOVE YOU, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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