I-spy reading fun for little eyes.

A board book with great potential for interaction between a baby and the reader who shares it.

From one spread to the next, text poses observations and questions that are answered with the titular refrain, “it’s not the baby.” Accompanying pictures provide context and invite readers to point to key elements or to verbally identify them in response to the text. For example, the third double-page spread reads, “Who just tiptoed in to take frosting off the birthday cake? / It’s not the baby.” The accompanying illustration shows a grinning mouse gripping a hunk of brightly frosted cake in its front paws. Other animals and one white preschool-age child make similar mischief throughout the book, until the final spread when the white baby depicted on the cover reappears and is identified as the one who made “a great big slurp followed by a giant BURP.” “It IS the baby,” concludes the text as characters from the prior pages look on with wide-eyed expressions. The digital art uses bright colors to attract the eye and employs a cartoon style befitting the playful text, though the busyness of the pictures indicates an older toddler rather than infant audience.

I-spy reading fun for little eyes. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68152-194-7

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Amicus Ink

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018


A joyful celebration.

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. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020


An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to.

This simplified version of Diesen and Hanna’s The Pout-Pout Fish (2008) is appropriate for babies and toddlers.

Brief, rhyming text tells the story of a sullen fish cheered up with a kiss. A little pink sea creature pokes his head out of a hole in the sea bottom to give the gloomy fish some advice: “Smile, Mr. Fish! / You look so down // With your glum-glum face / And your pout-pout frown.” He explains that there’s no reason to be worried, scared, sad or mad and concludes: “How about a smooch? / And a cheer-up wish? // Now you look happy: / What a smile, Mr. Fish!” Simple and sweet, this tale offers the lesson that sometimes, all that’s needed for a turnaround in mood is some cheer and encouragement to change our perspective. The clean, uncluttered illustrations are kept simple, except for the pout-pout fish’s features, which are delightfully expressive. Little ones will easily recognize and likely try to copy the sad, scared and angry looks that cross the fish’s face.

An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-37084-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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