Happy birthday to a splendid book for new birthday boys and girls.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUNNY!

Scanlon delivers a sweet, rhyming text to tell the story of a little bunny’s birthday in Graegin’s debut picture book.

The succinct phrasing from page to page marks this as a text for very young children just learning about birthdays and birthday parties. The text takes a natural question-and-answer format as the birthday girl asks about each activity, and her mother offers loving replies. Scenes devoted to getting dressed up, greeting guests, celebrating with music and play, blowing out birthday-cake candles, opening gifts, taking pictures and looking back at past years provide an overview of the festivities. Perhaps taking a cue from the closing line’s reference to the girl as “sweet honey bun,” Graegin casts the unnamed central characters as a family of anthropomorphic bunnies, introducing a veritable peaceable kingdom of relatives and friends who come to celebrate on the special day. Graegin’s illustrations employ pencil-and-ink washes that are then digitally assembled and colored, and they mark her as an up-and-coming artist to watch, as they evoke a style akin to that of Peter McCarty, Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Polly Dunbar.

Happy birthday to a splendid book for new birthday boys and girls. (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0287-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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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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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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