Undemanding and upbeat, this is an adequate offering to share with toddlers in households that want to keep the Christ in...

GOD BLESS OUR CHRISTMAS

Rhyming, four-line stanzas celebrate Christmas in both secular and religious aspects.

A bevy of animals, presumably polar and mostly white with the occasional red scarf or cap, romp in the snow and generally exude Christmas cheer. Snowshoe hares watch a white mouse hang red baubles from an exposed fir bough; a husky family drags a sled out to fetch a tree; harp seals play on the floes. A family of polar bears quaffs hot cocoa inside an igloo; Arctic foxes decorate cookies; penguins (presumably visiting from Antarctica) decorate a snowy tree. Whitlow’s illustrations employ a palette of icy blues, with red and green accents; his soft-focus animals all smile benignly. The frolicking mice that appear in every spread add visual interest. Hall’s quatrains, written with an abab rhyme scheme, are generously punctuated with exclamation marks and are sugar-cookie sweet. The rhyme and meter are occasionally forced and relentlessly singsong, in keeping with the overall tone. God is explicitly part of this celebration, sending snow and cheer as well as the gift of the baby Jesus. Given the religious underpinnings of the book, it’s a pity there is not just a touch more gravitas to balance out the sweetness.

Undemanding and upbeat, this is an adequate offering to share with toddlers in households that want to keep the Christ in Christmas . (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4003-2399-9

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.

FIVE BLACK CATS

A troop of cats traverse a spooky landscape as they make their way to a party hosted by ghosts.

Each double-page spread shows the felines’ encounters with the likes of an owl, jack-o’-lanterns or a bat. One or two of these creepy meetings may be too abstract for the youngest readers, as the cats hear eerie noises with no discernible source on the page. The text, which consists of one rhyming couplet per scene, mostly scans despite a couple of wobbles: “Five black cats get a bit of a scare / As the flip-flapping wings of a bat fill the air.” The sleek, slightly retro art, likely created using a computer, depicts the cats cavorting at night through a shadowy cityscape, the countryside and a haunted house; they may scare some toddlers and delight others. A brighter color palette would have given the project a friendlier, more universal appeal. Luckily, the well-lit, final party scene provides a playful conclusion.

For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-611-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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