Will not “bee” an essential purchase.

SLEEPY BEE

A tired bee flits about, pollinating as she goes.

Let’s talk first impressions: This is one exhausted-looking bee on the cover, with bags under her eyes that make her verge on haggard. Her weary face is somewhat off-putting, and it’s never clear what fatigues her. Does she really find the enthusiastically described tasks of finding “nectar to sip” and “pollen to munch” so onerous? Readers might experience a similar feeling of disquiet when reading the poetry aloud. Yes, the book rhymes, but the couplets have a forced, choppy feel, and the meter is inconsistent from page to page. Though there are bright, informational stanzas with effervescent lines extolling the “yummy, twisty vines of green sweet pea” sprinkled throughout, others like, “At mid-day, when the sun is high. / She zooms to sunflowers nearby” feel flat and even amateurish. Better is the art sitting underneath the superimposed cartoon bee. Big, bright portraits of luscious, labeled veggies, flowers, and fruits, including strawberries, pumpkins, and apples, are eye-catching and just right for very young viewers. Muted collages of garden scenes have an earthy, cut-paper quality and contain enough details of fields and gardens to be interesting but not overwhelming. Bulleted facts on the back cover contain some neat bee facts; though they are too sophisticated for a board-book audience, adults reading with their children may learn a thing or two.

Will not “bee” an essential purchase. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-936669-86-8

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

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 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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