Buzz on by this one.




Two die-cut cardboard worker bees accompany readers through an introduction to honeybees.

They are set into shaped holes in the cover and attached to the book with yellow ribbons, but subsequent pages give them no real place to rest or otherwise interact with the text, reducing them to glorified bookmarks. The bees speak to readers in the first-person plural, imparting basic information in a series of declarative sentences. Unfortunately, odd phrasing combines with oversimplification for a bumpy ride. “We fly from flower to flower spreading pollen dust,” for instance, both neglects the bees’ gathering of pollen as a foodstuff and adds the wholly unnecessary “dust,” mischaracterizing the substance. They do “a dance called the Waggle”—like the Charleston?—rather than a waggle dance, and its description is brushed in very broad strokes. In the hive, they “chew flower nectar”—a liquid and therefore unchewable—“to make honey” rather than performing the complicated enzymatic process that actually takes place. Dove’s illustrations depict an impossible hive (an old-fashioned straw one bisected by a branch) rather than a modern wooden hive or an actual feral nest. While most in the board-book audience are likely not to know the difference, to present them with vague, fact-adjacent information and active untruths for the sake of a gimmick that doesn’t work particularly well does them a disservice. If it’s too complicated to communicate clearly, don’t bother trying.

Buzz on by this one. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6892-0

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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Attractive but disappointing.


From the Little Kids First Board Books series

National Geographic brings its gorgeous, accurate wildlife photography to toddlers.

One double-page spread is devoted to each of 10 animals (some may feel that calling chipmunks, frogs, and ducks “wild” is stretching it a bit). The animals hail from all over the map—from an elephant and a zebra to a black bear and a wolf. The sound each creature makes begins the text, followed by a sentence speculating what the animal might be communicating. Six of the spreads highlight an additional animal fact in a bright yellow circle. White thought bubbles on seven spreads that attempt to inject humor are less successful. For example, in response to the wolf’s howl, the wolf pups think, “Should we answer?” Similarly, on a different spread, the primary text reads, “Roar! Time for dinner, the mother tiger calls.” The tiger cub wonders in response, “What’s the catch of the day?” The typical board-book audience of babies and toddlers will not get the jokes, and preschoolers are ready for more-substantial books. The needless anthropomorphization detracts from what could be simple, useful nonfiction. The final spread reprises six of the animals in a guessing game to “Match the animals with the sounds they make.” Ocean, published simultaneously, is similarly formatted (and flawed), but all the creatures featured share the ocean habitat.

Attractive but disappointing. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3466-5

Page Count: 26

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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