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ALL IS MERRY AND BRIGHT

From the Shine Bright Book series

Display this shimmering keepsake under the tree every Christmas to remember the spirit of the season.

This oversized board book may be too heavy for little children to lift, but the foil-clad pages will draw their eyes.

It’s large (10 inches high and 9 inches wide but also 2 inches thick)—with pages twice as thick as in most board books. Foil pages with embossed text and subtle tactile decorations are reminiscent of expensive holiday giftwrap. There is no story here (and no punctuation), but there is action. Most panels depict a varied cast of children engaged in winter and holiday activities. The words call to mind “Silent Night,” but this is not a rewrite of that classic carol. Rather, the poetic text and modern design evoke the spirit of the holiday season. Three to six well-chosen words in uppercase text centered on either recto or verso are well-matched to the stylized illustrations. For example, on the third spread, the words “WHEN LIGHTS SHINE” are surrounded by holiday ornaments in silver, copper green, blue, and red against a deep green background. Similarly, on the eighth spread, a family greeting a troupe of carolers (both groups multiracial) shares a picture window with the words “SINGING RINGING VOICES RISE.” More than 35 shiny musical notes float above the scene.

Display this shimmering keepsake under the tree every Christmas to remember the spirit of the season. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2912-3

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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FAMILIES BELONG

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

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LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

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

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 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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