More ho-hum than ho ho ho.

WHO SAYS HO HO HO?

From the Baby Mirror Board Books series

In trying to find out what Baby says on Christmas, readers encounter lots of sounds animals make.

This board book follows a predictable question-and-answer format. “On Christmas, does Baby say MEOW MEOW MEOW??” gives way with the page turn to “No! On Christmas, Kitten says MEOW MEOW MEOW!” The text explores who says “woof,” “tweet,” “ribbit,” and “glub,” at the end revealing what a chubby, Santa hat–topped Baby says (“HO HO HO!”) beside a tree-shaped mirror inviting readers to say it, too. The structure is certainly appropriate for little readers, who will enjoy playing along, but it comes across as a forced Christmas version of Highlights’ Who Says Uh-oh? (2019). The illustrations are largely photographs with added computer-generated, clip art–style images of gifts, stockings, and snowflakes. If it weren’t for those little touches, that last tot with the Santa hat (also the cover picture), and the words “Ho ho ho,” the book wouldn’t seem to be related to Christmas at all. The Santa baby and two others are pale-skinned or present white; one other appears Asian, and two seem black. While the babies and animals are certainly cute, overall, the illustrations don’t rise above that. This type of book is a dime a dozen, and this iteration doesn’t do anything to stand out, charm, or grab readers.

More ho-hum than ho ho ho. (Board book. 6 mos-2)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68437-646-9

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Highlights Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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