When there are so many titles available that provide counting practice without sacrificing engaging text and illustrations,...

An interactive counting book featuring five playful snowmen.

A long rectangular shape is cut through the book so that readers can see and manipulate, from every double-page spread, five numbered snowmen who slide from one side of the row to the other for counting practice. Text in a fairly small font offers a perfunctory story about a robin helping a snowman to find a friend, after which three more snowmen join them in winter play. Boldface text beneath the rectangular window lets children know when they should move another snowman from left to right as they count to five; they can then move them all back to the left again to start the game anew. The serviceable story and illustrations both seem to have been crafted in support of the “slide and count” element of the text. Unfortunately, this idea falls flat in execution because when the book is tilted in any direction, the snowmen slide back and forth willy-nilly, disrupting the counting process. Companion title Five Christmas Reindeer is very similar, inviting children to count the reindeer as they prepare to help Santa deliver presents.

When there are so many titles available that provide counting practice without sacrificing engaging text and illustrations, this simply doesn’t make the cut. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0170-5

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2015


A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020


An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to.

This simplified version of Diesen and Hanna’s The Pout-Pout Fish (2008) is appropriate for babies and toddlers.

Brief, rhyming text tells the story of a sullen fish cheered up with a kiss. A little pink sea creature pokes his head out of a hole in the sea bottom to give the gloomy fish some advice: “Smile, Mr. Fish! / You look so down // With your glum-glum face / And your pout-pout frown.” He explains that there’s no reason to be worried, scared, sad or mad and concludes: “How about a smooch? / And a cheer-up wish? // Now you look happy: / What a smile, Mr. Fish!” Simple and sweet, this tale offers the lesson that sometimes, all that’s needed for a turnaround in mood is some cheer and encouragement to change our perspective. The clean, uncluttered illustrations are kept simple, except for the pout-pout fish’s features, which are delightfully expressive. Little ones will easily recognize and likely try to copy the sad, scared and angry looks that cross the fish’s face.

An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-37084-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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