Happy nonsense that feels very British despite its Italian origins


The irrepressible Blake supplies illustrations for Yeoman’s English translation of the late Luzzati’s rhyming verses, “Filastrocca di Natale.”

The refrain is infectiously nonsensical: “With a bop and a bip and a bip and a bop/ A wardrobe with three little owls on the top. / And each of the three has decided to lay / A shiny white egg as it’s Christmas today.” The three loosely drawn pen-and-ink owls are differentiated by different wash colors, slightly different body types and appealing tufts on the bluish owl. They are a friendly trio, staring out from the page with large, round white eyes and clutching their individual eggs with sturdy, fingerlike feathers. Underneath is the hint of a wooden wardrobe. Blake’s trademark artwork continues to delight, as he shows the owls in their odd party garb; one is “wearing a gigantic vase for a hat.” Before setting off on a year’s journey that takes them around the world, the owls pull from a barrel a most unusual and learned fish, depicted in a whimsical double-page spread. While the “bops” and “bips” of the rhyme keep the youngest viewers happy, older children will enjoy such absurdities as the fish fretting about getting wet. The owls’ return to England coincides with Christmas, giving the book some holiday appeal as well.

Happy nonsense that feels very British despite its Italian origins . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-84976-080-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tate/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer.


From the Peppa Pig series

Peppa hopes to join her classmates in a Halloween pumpkin competition in this adaptation of a story from the popular British television program Peppa Pig.

With the help of Granny and Grandpa Pig, Peppa turns her giant pumpkin, which is the size of a compact car, into a jack-o’-lantern. The trio is flummoxed when it comes time to transport the pumpkin to the competition, so they call on Miss Rabbit and her helicopter to airlift the pumpkin to the festivities as Peppa and her grandparents ride inside. Peppa arrives just in time for the contest and wins the prize for best flying pumpkin. The scenes look as if they are pulled directly from the television show, right down to the rectangular framing of some of the scenes. While the story is literally nothing new, the text is serviceable, describing the action in two to three sentences per page. The pumpkin-shaped book and orange foil cover will likely attract youngsters, whether they are Peppa fans or not.

This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-33922-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

Little fingers will enjoy making this book dance, and their bodies may not be far behind.


Using his signature supersturdy pull-tabs to animate the scenes, Van Fleet concocts a crowd pleaser about a baby chick learning to dance.

At the dance hall, a newly hatched chick, dubbed “Chickie Baby,” is taught to shake by hippopotamuses, to hop by bunnies, and more. The rhyming text is playfully repetitive and rhythmic, employing some clever wordplay: “Cool, Chickie Baby, now you’re great and gettin’ greater! / Now swing both your arms and do the Gator Mashed Potater!” Here an alligator teaches Chickie Baby a fist-pumping arm motion (not actually the 1960s mashed potato dance), activated by the pull-tab on the right of the page. There are times when the text’s phrases miss the meter and the refrain after Chickie Baby learns a step (“You can dance!”) doesn’t quite flow. The final double-page spread shows Chickie Baby showing off all of his moves, and his friends offer a curtain call in the form of a gatefold pop-up. But the star here, for any toddler or preschooler, will be the extra-large pull-tabs. From the “Busy Beaver Bop” to the “Crazy Piggy Tap,” these tabs demand to be pulled repeatedly—and they can take it. A thick, clear piece of plastic acts as protection for the parts, making this series the sturdiest movable books available.

Little fingers will enjoy making this book dance, and their bodies may not be far behind. (Pop-up board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8707-8

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet