For settings that really, really need another first-words book.


A brief introduction to items in a baby’s world, with simple, tactile effects.

Appealing to a baby’s sense of touch, this basic board book showcases 10 words that would largely be familiar in a little one’s world. Each two-page spread displays connected words and concepts. The opening layout of embossed pairs of “socks” and “shoes,” for example, describes them as “striped” and “spotted,” respectively. The images are bold and large, taking up nearly the entire page without busy or distracting backgrounds, making for easy viewing and touching. The textures are a nice addition to the illustrations, especially for little hands primed to touch and explore. The “leaf” has raised water droplets on its “green” surface that are particularly effective. The page featuring a smiling “spoon” says, oddly, “Let’s make a smiley face!” whereas all of the other images are accompanied by more logical glosses or engaging questions. The final two pages show all of the images together, providing caregivers an opportunity to make connections or to simply review words with their children. Companion title Baby’s First Baby Animals follows a similar structure, introducing 10 baby animals with tactile images and a recap layout at the end. By contrast, however, these two-page spreads don’t feature the same cohesion of description or inviting questions. Overall, Words stands out over Baby Animals for its integrity of layout, though neither does anything earth-shatteringly different from myriad board books about firsts for baby.

For settings that really, really need another first-words book. (Board book. 6-18 mos.)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4654-6365-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A substantive and affirming addition to any collection.


An impressive array of names, events, and concepts from Black history are introduced in this alphabet book for early-elementary readers.

From A for anthem (“a banner of song / that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong”) to Z for zenith (“the top of that mountain King said we would reach”), this picture book is a journey through episodes, ideas, and personalities that represent a wide range of Black experiences. Some spreads celebrate readers themselves, like B for beautiful (“I’m talking to you!”); others celebrate accomplishments, such as E for explore (Matthew Henson, Mae Jemison), or experiences, like G for the Great Migration. The rhyming verses are light on the tongue, making the reading smooth and soothing. The brightly colored, folk art–style illustrations offer vibrant scenes of historical and contemporary Black life, with common people and famous people represented in turn. Whether reading straight through and poring over each page or flipping about to look at the refreshing scenes full of brown and black faces, readers will feel pride and admiration for the resilience and achievements of Black people and a call to participate in the “unfinished…American tale.” Endnotes clarify terms and figures, and a resource list includes child-friendly books, websites, museums, and poems.

A substantive and affirming addition to any collection. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0749-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging.


From the I Can Learn! series

This noisy board book is designed to thrill tots fascinated with all things construction.

A tactile backhoe digger is center stage on each of the five cutout pages, complete with flaps. Brief rhyming text describes the machine’s actions as it works throughout the day. Animal characters engaged in manual labor or operating other machinery—a bulldozer, crane, road roller, and dump truck—describe more work that goes on at a construction site in small speech bubbles. Finding the mouse in every scene adds to the fun. On each page, a little bird sporting a hard hat invites young builders to press various parts of the silicone digger to activate a range of distinct sounds. The digger’s track pad sounds different from the sound of its arm moving dirt. The problem is that the digger itself is passive; the track pad and arm don’t actually move. The machine stays in the same place on every spread. The caution light beeps but doesn’t light up. Savvy kids will quickly realize that all the sounds are accessible from the first spread without having to turn the pages. The sound is the most engaging part of the book, but with only five sounds, this feature won’t hold most youngsters’ attention for long.

A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging. (Novelty board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-684-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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