A toddler-level alternative to Leo Lionni’s classic Swimmy or Andy Mansfield and Henning Löhlein’s Fish Food (2015) that’s...



The title does duty as both theme and refrain in this simple introduction to food chains.

Rotated 90 degrees and read top to bottom, each spread opens with a simply rendered seascape, woodland, pine forest, or other natural setting in which sharp-eyed viewers are challenged to spot subtle signs of a set of predators and prey. The first such pair appears atop two accordion-creased gatefolds with the predator declaring the titular intention, “I will eat you!” on one side An identifying transition such as “said the caterpillar to the apple, but…” or “said the turtle to the algae, but…” appears on the other. The gatefolds open out to reveal two or three larger predators lined up to swoop in, presumably in turn repeating “I will eat you!”—but it leaves that secondary line marooned on the page unaltered. The natural tendency to reread it will likely cause both young viewers and adult readers to stumble. Who are all these new and unlabeled arrivals? Definitely not more caterpillars and apples. Moreover, when labels do finally show up on a pictorial cast list at the end, some are low-bar generalities such as “Little fish” or “Little bird" rather than specific names.

A toddler-level alternative to Leo Lionni’s classic Swimmy or Andy Mansfield and Henning Löhlein’s Fish Food (2015) that’s marred by flawed design. (Informational novelty. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4031-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.


From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Clear, simple, fun, and delightfully age-appropriate.


From the Baby Scientist series

Science for toddlers and preschoolers done right.

The current obsession for STEM education, often prioritized over teaching critical-thinking skills and cultivating an awareness of those parts of the human experience that make life fulfilling, has spawned a whole genre of board books for children. This “get ’em while they’re young” approach has spawned some misfires, which often seem designed to please pushy parents trying to produce the next Einstein rather than to satisfy a young learner’s natural curiosity. This book neatly evades that trap. It’s delightful, with a logic and clarity in articulation; bright, colorful, and uncluttered artwork; and concerning a topic that’s a proven kid-pleaser: dinosaurs. Beginning with a few simple declarative sentences, the writing flows naturally toward ever more complex ideas in a way that never goes over young heads: “Who studies fossils? Baby Paleontologist does! / Every fossil tells a story. Fossils tell the stories of plants and animals that lived long ago.” Any caregiver who has ever been asked “why” over and over should appreciate the easy pace of presentation. “Baby has fun putting together puzzles. What did this dinosaur look like? Baby Paleontologist puts the bones together just like a puzzle.” Presenting new and potentially complicated ideas in a way a young audience can understand is a puzzle in itself; here, mercifully, the pieces fit easily and naturally together.

Clear, simple, fun, and delightfully age-appropriate. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-284135-3

Page Count: 22

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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