A winning and wonderful way to foster a child’s fascination for wildlife.



Fiona, the photogenic baby hippo, returns with a menagerie of baby animal friends.

Although Fiona’s fabulous face graces only the cover and three interior pages of this compact, sturdy board book, the pulchritudinous pachyderm’s eponymous friends provide plenty of interest for animal-loving tots and toddlers. Our hippo heroine’s youthful playmates represent 10 different species and include a baby rhinoceros, a red panda, a takin (a Himalayan gnu goat), a manatee, a giraffe, a flamingo, an aardvark, a tiger, a cheetah, and a gorilla. As in Fiona’s previous board-book outing, Fiona’s Feelings, the photographs from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s collection are lovingly curated and thoroughly charming. The text is simple, with each animal’s name and species in one line of a rhymed couplet: “Fiona the hippo loves to play. / Let’s meet some of her friends today! // Kendi the rhino, brave and strong. / Cora the giraffe, twisty and long.” It’s not Shakespeare, but it should delight youngsters by capitalizing on their natural fascination with exotic fauna. While Fiona is clearly a star in her own right, the other animal babies in this volume are equally irresistible. Few sights can compete with a hairless, newborn aardvark sleeping peacefully against its mother’s belly.

A winning and wonderful way to foster a child’s fascination for wildlife. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-936669-68-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.


The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity


When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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