A harmless sugar-coated confection that won’t rot baby’s teeth.

COUNT MY CUPCAKES 123

One of the five spongy cupcakes that show up flush with the die-cut front cover of this board book disappears with each page turn.

Using a familiar rhyme pattern, this sweet confection counts down from “5 yummy cupcakes” to “One yummy cupcake.” The smiling pastel cupcakes, each decorated with a different type of sprinkles, are engaged in very un-cake-like behavior. They “shimmy,” “giggle,” “jiggle,” “wiggle,” and “swing” but one by one are ultimately bumped off the page by a milkshake, doughnut, ice cream cone, and cookie. Each stanza is displayed against a different background—a cake shop, a meadow with a smiling rainbow, a carnival complete with rides, and a library. That none of this makes any sense won’t matter at all to little sweethearts just learning to count backward. The rhymes read smoothly, and the rhythm bounces along to a predictable beat. Wan’s palette of pink, mint green, and lemon yellow is tempered by shades of peach, olive green, and purple, along with chocolate-brown outlines. Unlike real cupcakes (or the monkeys readers might be familiar with from a similarly cadenced rhyme), none are devoured. On the final spread all five cupcakes and their sweet-treat friends return, “laughing joyfully” under a mostly pink rainbow that arcs across a sprinkle sky.

A harmless sugar-coated confection that won’t rot baby’s teeth. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-04535-2

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside.

EIGHT JOLLY REINDEER

Readers can count down eight of Santa's reindeer as they jump up and out of the scene. 

In each one of the mostly double-page spreads, one reindeer, from Dasher to Blitzen, plays a central role in a winter activity (sledding, ski jumping, ice skating—and soccer and yoga?) that launches the creature into the air. Glitter-speckled tabs, each with small portraits of a member of Santa's herd, appear at either the top or the right side of each page, which little fingers will enjoy flipping. In what looks to be pencil-and-watercolor cartoons, Rogers uses different facial expressions, as well as collars, bows or other accessories, to distinguish the reindeer from one another. Donner (not Donder) and Blitzen are squeezed together on the penultimate spread, likely to keep the page count down. The verse mostly scans, but the rhyme scheme has become the cliché of counting books: "Eight jolly reindeer / stretching up to heaven. / Up goes Dasher / and then there are... // Seven...." Santa, his iconic sleigh and the eight reindeer in flight make a dramatic and required appearance on the book's final double-page spread. 

As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-65145-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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