Parents may well hope that their children don’t pick up Hazel’s beat—but they probably will.




A little composer gets her whole family moving and grooving to her “bop-able” beat, but it's not easy.

Tiny Hazel Nut loves to sing and dance...and she also loves her polka-dot pants. She is literally a hazelnut, with a big round body and little legs and a little puff of hair on either side of her head. Hazel writes a song celebrating her pants one rainy day, then sets out to get her family to sing and dance along with her. Hard as she tries, she can't get Papa (an acorn) to give up his book or Mama (a chestnut) to drop the laundry or brother Wally (a walnut) to abandon his carnival garb to rock out with her. So Hazel calls her Grandma Nut (not readily identifiable), who almost immediately bursts through the door and disco-dances across the floor, also wearing polka-dot pants. When Mama, Papa, and Wally hear the "happy hullabaloo," they can't resist singing and dancing too. It's "Saturday Nut Fever," complete with disco ball and lit-up dance floor. Readers are encouraged to visit to download free songs for singing and dancing. Litwin's jaunty rhyming text has an infectious simplicity, though it's low on content and quickly grows repetitive. Magoon's Adobe Photoshop illustrations are a riot of bright colors and skittish shapes, relying on energy to compensate for occasionally unclear delineation of setting.

Parents may well hope that their children don’t pick up Hazel’s beat—but they probably will. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-32250-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.


Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A quiet book about making a giant leap.


Lottie knows something no one else knows. Her mother and brother don’t know. Her swimming instructor does not know, and the other children in swim class certainly don’t know.

There is a shark that lives in the pool. It wants to eat Lottie—only Lottie—and Lottie is not going to let it get anywhere near her. Most children have had moments when they’ve sat on the sidelines watching others laugh and play because they were too scared to just dive in, and that is precisely where Lottie finds herself. Lucky for her, Walter shows up just in time. He sings, they read books, play in bubbles, and even share the same favorite food. But when it comes time for Lottie to face her fears, can Walter truly help? Walter, as readers and Lottie see but her family may not, is an enormous walrus. Walker’s soft and appropriately watery illustrations complement and extend her whimsical text, lending a dreamlike feel to the story. Readers will discern the shadowy, predatory shape of the shark below the surface of the water even as Lottie’s classmates splash and play, and they will sympathize, and they will giggle at the depictions of Walter’s huge bulk in Lottie’s tidy urban home while believing that Walter will protect her. Lottie, her mother, and her brother have light-brown skin and black hair.

A quiet book about making a giant leap. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-47038-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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