A playful package that could have used more multicultural representation.



In black-and-white photos, babies cavort through the alphabet accompanied by brightly colored objects and accessories.

Each page spotlights an oversized letter in a bold hue and one pre-walking or toddling infant in diapers using a prop that starts with the featured letter. The "G" page, for example, features a bubbly cherub wearing bright red glasses; a clear image of the letter, also in red, floats nearby, taking up almost half the page. The expressive babies are photographed against spare white backgrounds, but it is surprising that there is so little diversity; only four babies of the 26 are obviously not Caucasian. The sister title, Baby 123, uses similar black-and-white photos with colored objects to count, with each numeral on a double-page spread. Taking readers up to 10, the babies play with one large exercise ball, two maracas, three chairs and so on. The final spread recaps the numbers and objects that have come before. The layout and design of both titles are clean and clear. While a couple of the accessories may be a little abstract for babies, such as the crown or the toy iron in the alphabet book, or difficult to count, like the haphazard clump of bears in the counting title, the concepts presented are more of a framing device to give babies what they want: pictures of other creatures like themselves.

A playful package that could have used more multicultural representation. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3973-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...


The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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