A sweet and easy book to share with little ones at Christmastime

MY BABY LOVES CHRISTMAS

Holiday cheer with Baby.

“Baby loves candy canes wrapped in a bow. / Baby loves jingle bells. Baby loves snow.” Asim’s rhyming verse enumerates everything that Baby loves about Christmas: the wreath and its ribbons, the tree with gifts beneath it, a family Christmas carol singalong, making gingerbread “men,” hanging stockings, and, of course, Santa. Whitaker contributes ever-so-slightly retro-tinged illustrations that recall stylings seen in mid-20th-century Little Golden Books. Where this offering departs from those hoary classics is in its joyous depiction of a black, onesie-clad toddler protagonist celebrating the rituals of the holiday within a black nuclear family. Baby and Mommy share ebullient black curls (Mommy’s are loose while Baby’s are confined with a ribbon); Daddy sports a close-cropped beard and a fade. Mommy’s skin is a tad darker than Daddy’s and Baby’s. Little listeners will love spotting the protagonist’s happy tabby kitten in each spread, and black families in particular will appreciate such thoughtful details as a black Nutcracker doll and black Santa among all the poinsettias and garland that bestrew the house. With its gold-foil cover and celebration of commonly depicted Christmas traditions, it blends right in with other offerings produced for the season—and as it does, it stands proudly out.

A sweet and easy book to share with little ones at Christmastime . (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288462-6

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

THE ABCS OF LOVE

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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