Clear, endearing, and important.

WILL LADYBUG HUG?

A sweet and simple introduction for toddlers to the ideas of consent and boundaries.

Author/illustrator Leung hits all the right notes in this useful and appealing volume that reminds kids that gestures of physical affection aren’t always welcome and that it’s OK to say, “No.” A series of vignettes presents the simple lesson, in Q-and-A fashion, in paired two-page scenes. The first two pages introduce the protagonist, Ladybug, who “loves hugs! She hugs to say hello. She hugs to say goodbye….” The following spread poses the book’s fundamental question: “…but will her friends let Ladybug hug?” For the rest of the book, Ladybug asks permission of her cute animal friends to hug them, enjoying several consensual hugs and being an understanding friend when she learns that “Sheep does not want to hug, and that’s okay.” The artwork is clean and simple, the backgrounds colorful, and the characters charming and expressive. In the denouement, Ladybug’s friends gather to see her off at the airport (in the final illustration, she flies away on her own power, sans airplane). “Does Ladybug want a super group hug? Yes.” Everyone clinches but Sheep, and that’s apparently still OK; no one gets hurt feelings. Sheep does accept a high-five, suggesting that, hugging preferences aside, Sheep is a part of, and not apart from, the group of friends.

Clear, endearing, and important. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-21560-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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