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

FIVE LITTLE SNOWMEN

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. 21, 2015

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

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. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

THE ABCS OF LOVE

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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