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JUST THE WAY YOU ARE

From the Emma Dodd's Love You Books series

A delightful offering that will be especially welcome as a gift for baby showers and new parents.

A doting parent offers tender assurances to a tiny child.

An adult tiger vows that they will be everlastingly devoted to their baby and at their side in every circumstance, under all conditions, no matter what, no matter when—and without the child’s having to change for any reason…ever. The pair, whose genders are unspecified, are endearingly depicted very close to each other, their bodies often entwined, over the course of a day and night. The enraptured cub listens carefully, taking the warm, comforting, empowering message to heart, not missing a word as the pair explore their habitat, reinforcing the idea of togetherness close to home and farther afield. Loving words like these from parents to children can’t be said often enough—and children can’t hear such esteem-building confidences often enough. The tiger’s soothing words are delivered in gentle, lilting verse. The very sweet illustrations, created digitally, depict this appealing duo expressively; especially charming are scenes of the pair captured beneath a starry night sky. Though there’s little new here, parent-child affirmations are always welcome. Grown-ups sharing this title shouldn’t be surprised if their own offspring want to hear it more than once. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A delightful offering that will be especially welcome as a gift for baby showers and new parents. (Picture book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2665-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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FAMILIES BELONG

A joyful celebration.

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. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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THE ITSY BITSY BUNNY

Leave the hopping to Peter Cottontail and sing the original song instead.

An Easter-themed board-book parody of the traditional nursery rhyme.

Unfortunately, this effort is just as sugary and uninspired as The Itsy Bitsy Snowman, offered by the same pair in 2015. A cheerful white bunny hops through a pastel world to distribute candy and treats for Easter but spills his baskets. A hedgehog, fox, mouse, and various birds come to the bunny’s rescue, retrieving the candy, helping to devise a distribution plan, and hiding the eggs. Then magically, they all fly off in a hot air balloon as the little animals in the village emerge to find the treats. Without any apparent purpose, the type changes color to highlight some words. For very young children every word is new, so highlighting “tiny tail” or “friends” makes no sense. Although the text is meant to be sung, the words don't quite fit the rhythm of the original song. Moreover, there are not clear motions to accompany the text; without the fingerplay movements, this book has none of the satisfying verve of the traditional version.

Leave the hopping to Peter Cottontail and sing the original song instead. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5621-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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