A lovely reminder that laughter is most valuable when shared.

WILL GIRAFFE LAUGH?

The author/illustrator of Will Ladybug Hug? and Will Bear Share? (both 2018) provides another valuable life lesson in this cleanly illustrated, simple story.

The animal and insect cast of Leung’s earlier works returns with an entertaining reminder not to take oneself too seriously. The story is simple but rich. When Giraffe wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, his friends set out to cheer him up. Can they get a chuckle or a smile out of their stubborn, grumpy friend? In successive double-page spreads, the question is posed again and again: “Will Giraffe laugh with Bear?”; “…with Crocodile?”; “…with Sheep?”; “…with Frog?”; “…with Ladybug?” Juggling, a puppet show, balloon animals, goofy tongue tricks, and flowers all backfire with spectacularly silly results that will have little ones cracking up even as Giraffe gets more and more dour. When Giraffe loses his cool and yells at his friends, though, he realizes he’s gone too far. A desperate gambit to make his friends laugh goes hilariously awry, and a muddier but wiser Giraffe learns the value of laughing at himself. Despite the stylish economy of the artwork, each character is improbably expressive. The book concludes by asking toddlers, “How do you cheer up your friends?”

A lovely reminder that laughter is most valuable when shared. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-21561-8

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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