An eye-catching way to introduce older toddlers and preschoolers to the babies of our world.

Esbaum brings the littlest listeners an adorable and rollicking read-aloud about animal babies.

Bouncy rhymes and spot-on rhythms will delight little ears (“Paws and claws / and little flippers, / feet that look like fuzzy slippers. / Itty-bitty hooves and toes. // Webby footsies? / We love those!”), but inarguably, it is the photos that will attract and hold readers’ attention; accompanying the quote above, these include a black bear, a manatee with a parent, a polar bear, an Indian rhino, a mountain gorilla, and a trio of domestic ducks. Whether taking up a single- or double-page spread or simply placed in circular vignettes whose borders they frequently overflow, these babies will enthrall. While the animals are not labeled on the pages, the backmatter “Meet the babies” includes a circular thumbnail of each of the 54 (identical to the photo from the text), its name, and the name used for the baby animal (calf, chick, foal, etc.). Throughout, children will spy Hanson’s tiny cartoon animals with pompoms cheering about their love for babies of all kinds. Listeners will quickly catch their enthusiasm, though some rereads may be in order before they can chime in on the only thrice-repeated refrain: “We love babies! / Yes we do! / We love babies! / How about you?”

An eye-catching way to introduce older toddlers and preschoolers to the babies of our world. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3748-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019


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


Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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