Preschoolers may not know all of the creatures (aardvark, kiwi, ibex), but they will have fun pointing out what’s happening...

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THE ABC ANIMAL ORCHESTRA

The title says it all—kind of.

Twenty-six different animal characters each play an instrument; they are introduced one by one, with the final double-page spread bringing the whole orchestra together. A banner runs across the bottoms of the pages with three lines that name each creature and cite the action of the scene in both upper and lower cases. “N is for NEWTS making lots of NOISE! It’s also for nightingale and nest.” In the accompanying illustration, five gaily dressed newts sing, bang pots and blow a horn, while in the background, a top-hatted nightingale sings from its nest. Not all letters are able to achieve such thematic unity. For the tricky letters, Q is for quiet, quail, quilt and queen, and “X is for XANTHUS hummingbird playing the XYLOPHONE. It’s also for x-ray.” In these and other cases, the additional words often have nothing to do with either animals or music, but they do help with letter-recognition practice. The animals are outfitted in clothing, hats and glasses in a bright and offbeat style that mixes collage and paint. The endpapers, on which the animals form the alphabet letters, are perhaps the cleverest part of the book.

Preschoolers may not know all of the creatures (aardvark, kiwi, ibex), but they will have fun pointing out what’s happening and connecting letters with them. Isn’t that what alphabet books are supposed to do? (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9072-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful.

EGGS ARE EVERYWHERE

An interactive egg hunt with turning-wheel and lift-the-flap elements.

This board book begins by directing readers to find the hidden eggs. Each wheel—there are four in all set into the interior pages—has several different eggs on it, and turning it reveals an egg in a little die-cut window. Spinning it further hides the egg behind one of two lift-the-flap panels—two baskets, for example—and readers must guess behind which they’ll find the egg they have chosen to track. A diagram on the back provides instructions for use, likely more helpful to caregivers than to little ones. There is no narrative in this book; it’s simply page after page of different directives along the lines of “Guess which door!” As a result, the focus is really on manipulatives and the illustrations. Fortunately, Kirwan’s spring-themed artwork is gorgeous. The backdrop of each page is flower- and leaf-themed with warm spring hues, echoing the artwork of Eastern European hand-stenciled Easter eggs, two of which appear at the end of the book. The animals, like the smiling snail and mischievous mice, are reminiscent of classic European fairy-tale creatures. The only human in the book is a dark-skinned child with tight, curly hair. The moveable pieces largely work, though at times the necessary white space under the flaps interrupts the illustration awkwardly, as when the child’s hands suddenly develop large oval holes if the spinner is not in the correct position. Overall, it’s more game than book.

There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7457-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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