Don’t expect kids to pause to identify the mischief-makers or talk about the pictures, at least at first—do expect a request...

IT'S NOT THE PUPPY

The big-eyed pup on the cover of this board book is obviously a scamp and quite possibly to blame for all sorts of mayhem—or maybe not.

Each page shows a different character engaged in some activity, often mischievous, that might be expected from a dog, but the picture and text clearly indicate otherwise. The actual culprits are not named, and not all are animals. They include a bunny, raccoon, cat, and three children. Young children will quickly pick up the refrain, “It’s not the puppy?”—the proper response to the unobtrusively rhyming question posed on each left-hand page. The language is clear and direct: “When he waves his furry tail, / who knocks down the garbage pail?” The lively, cartoon illustrations include plenty of related details—flowers in the garden where the bunny digs, flies buzzing around the garbage can a raccoon has raided. Unfortunately, the pictures of children tend to reinforce gender stereotypes with what appears to be boys having active roles—tracking in mud while chasing a ball and practicing “doggy paddles in the tub.” The only child textually identified by gender is a girl hiding from thunder. The final picture is of another, less-fearful pigtailed child waking to “a big wet kiss surprise… / it IS the puppy!” All children depicted have brown skin and curly black hair.

Don’t expect kids to pause to identify the mischief-makers or talk about the pictures, at least at first—do expect a request to “read it again.” (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68152-409-2

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Amicus Ink

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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The small size, a predictable winter adventure, and Boynton’s very toddlerlike character make this a fine stocking stuffer...

MERRY CHRISTMAS, LITTLE POOKIE

Seven years after Little Pookie (2011) first appeared, this popular piglet is finally celebrating Christmas.

“Oh Pookie! Come look! It’s beginning to snow,” says a maternal-looking pig. But where did Pookie go? Past the Christmas tree, to put on a snowsuit of course. Pookie’s ever cheerful mama is willing to go out too. After all, “It’s a magical time to be walking with you.” When she observes, “Our noses are frozen. It’s time to go in,” Pookie protests in typical toddler style: “But I’m not c-c-c-cold!” The next three pages highlight indoor holiday preparations—making paper garlands, baking and decorating cookies. The rhyming text mirrors the spare illustrations. A spidery type that emulates handwriting makes it clear when Pookie is speaking. Then “the doorbell is ringing. / Our family and friends have arrived for the singing.” The second-to-last spread shows Pookie, mama, and six other pigs—and Boynton’s requisite chicken—singing (“Con brio”), “MER-RY CHRIST-MAS! MER-RY CHRIST-MAS! AND A HAP-PY NEW YEAR!” Conveniently, this text is placed beneath the musical notation. Finally Pookie hangs a stocking and goes off to bed without any fuss, anticipating presents on Christmas morning.

The small size, a predictable winter adventure, and Boynton’s very toddlerlike character make this a fine stocking stuffer or an ideal Christmas Eve read to share with other little piggies. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3724-1

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A swell read for the lighthearted. (Board book. 1-3)

THE BUNNY RABBIT SHOW!

The bunnies that inhabit Boynton’s colorful world put on a musical show for the other animals.

The rabbits have taken over the theater. They dance and sing, bragging about their long ears and twitchy noses for the pigs and chickens in the audience. The rhythmic chorus—“We are ten terrific rabbits and we like to dance and sing. / Ten terrific rabbits. We can do almost anything”—is mighty infectious. The author’s trademark wit and humor are on full display as the other animals dress up like bunnies and join the massive grand finale. The barnyard cast forms a musical troupe that amuses and delights. Adults will appreciate the clever sight gags, and small children will appreciate the tasteful boasting and empowering jingle. While it’s not as complete a vehicle for inculcating emergent language skills as many of Boynton’s other books, there’s no denying it’s got verve.

A swell read for the lighthearted. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8060-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

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