Tots will find Fiona a welcome nursery presence.


A photogenic hippo models emotions and behaviors in an undeniably winning board book.

Born six weeks prematurely, Cincinnati Zoo resident Fiona, the baby hippo, required much extra nursing and attention from her human caregivers. Fiona’s growth and progress were meticulously documented, blogged, and reblogged, making her an internet sensation in the process. As fate would have it, there are few things cuter than an underweight baby hippo, making Fiona an ideal candidate for a children’s board book. Fiona’s abundance of personality makes her well-suited to model a range of basic emotions; anthropomorphizing her various grins, yawns, peeks, and bellows comes naturally and easily. The success or failure of this type of book is a direct function of how unambiguously the photographs suggest the feelings indicated by the text. To that end, author and pediatrician Hutton has chosen an exemplary selection of pictures to accompany his simple rhymes: “Hippo happy. / Sometimes sad. // Often silly. / Uh-oh, mad.” Each page offers one photo and one clear concept that should resonate with the board-book audience, providing children with vocabulary for their own emotions and expressions. The steady meter and smooth rhyme scheme are easily retained; with repeated readings children will no doubt anticipate and be able to name familiar states such as “scared,” “proud,” “sleepy,” “shy,” and “hungry,” to name a few.

Tots will find Fiona a welcome nursery presence. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-936669-65-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Thoughts always inform actions; if we can help youngsters see individuals instead of differences, there’s hope.


From the What If Everybody? series

Thinking mean-spirited thoughts can be just as damaging as saying them out loud.

Javernick and Madden pair up once again (What If Everybody Did That?, 2010 and What If Everybody Said That?, 2018), this time to address bullying in a school setting. One hopes that all schools are diverse with regard to both culture and ability, but it can be difficult to help students see beyond differences. Javernick poses scenarios in which children exhibit varying physical disabilities, learning disabilities, medical conditions, and more. A group of children is often depicted scrutinizing one (four taller kids in gym class look to a shorter one, thinking, “He’s too little to play basketball” and “He’ll NEVER get that ball in the hoop”) as the titular phrase asks, “What if EVERYBODY thought that?” The following spread reads, “They might be wrong” as vignettes show the tiny tot zipping around everyone and scoring. If one sees someone using a wheelchair and automatically thinks, “Too bad she can’t be in the relay race”—well, “they might be wrong.” The (literal) flipside offered to each scenario teaches children to be aware of these automatic assumptions and hopefully change perceptions. Madden’s mixed-media illustrations show a diverse array of characters and have intentional, positive messages hidden within, sometimes scratched in chalk on the ground or hanging up in a frame on a classroom wall.

Thoughts always inform actions; if we can help youngsters see individuals instead of differences, there’s hope. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9137-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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