Sweetness with no substance

YOU ARE MY MAGICAL UNICORN

Wan takes her rhyming formula, previously applied to pumpkins, cupcakes, and more, and uses a unicorn as a vehicle for her newest outing in esteem-building.

“You are magical, my little one. / Reach for the stars, the moon, the sun.” In each image, a rotund white unicorn with flowing, rainbow-colored mane and tail, stubby yellow horn, and yellow stars on its rump poses fetchingly, gallops adorably, or leaps cunningly. It repels angry thunder clouds as it trots along a rainbow and emits stars as it’s exhorted to “sparkle and dazzle” in front of a small throng of admiring woodland animals. The artist’s signature thick, black outlines and smiley faces (except for the frowning thunder clouds) give the book a solidly cheerful feel that is reinforced by the pastel palette. Landing as it does in an environment in which an emphasis on resilience is superseding rank cheerleading in early-childhood instruction and in which empathy must be cultivated, it feels only half-baked. It’s all well and good to tell babies to “let your wondrous light shine through. / Baby, I believe in you!” But with no modeling of how to overcome adversity beyond the instruction not to “let fear stand in your way” nor even any sense that other creatures may be equally deserving of attention, it feels like the cotton candy it resembles.

Sweetness with no substance . (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-33410-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Hits just the right note for fans of the series and newcomers alike.

DOGGIE GETS SCARED

From the Leslie Patricelli Board Books series

A stuffed dog (and his baby) are afraid until they realize they have each other.

Patricelli’s instantly recognizable baby—White, still perpetually diaper clad, still with but one hair—from Bigger! Bigger! (2018) and many more is back with an adorable purple stuffed animal named Doggie. From swimming pools to strangers, Doggie gets pretty scared. The baby provides the pup lots of reassurance (including time with baby’s blankie) so that in the end, neither one is too afraid anymore. Adult readers will get a kick out of the fact that Doggie’s fears are actually the baby’s fears. What’s more, readers see the baby trying many of the same calm-down tactics on the stuffed canine that caregivers use on children. Both this device and the first-person narration are clever tools that will play well with little readers who likely share many of the same fears. The black-outlined images stand out against bold, saturated backgrounds, drawn with just enough detail to be interesting but not too busy. The simplicity of the illustrations doesn’t prevent Patricelli from conveying emotion, from the baby’s panic at possibly losing Doggie to the caregiver’s palpable relief at having found it. All of the characters present White save a few background figures. Patricelli’s rhyming Mad, Mad, MAD features the baby expressing anger and ultimately using techniques to work through it.

Hits just the right note for fans of the series and newcomers alike. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0379-0

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Sweet—but more for adults than children.

ALL THE LOVE IN THE WORLD

A doting pair of adult bears follows a baby bear through a busy day.

These fully engaged caregivers are clearly awed by the little cub, starting with “You’re the morning sunshine” and ending with “you sleep so peacefully / beneath the twinkling stars.” In between, the baby bear paints a picture, sings with one adult, tickles with the other, drinks cocoa, takes a walk and flies a kite, rides a bike, and is playfully swung in the air before a bath. Much of the action is communicated only by the pictures. The tender rhyming verses focus on the wonder of familial love. Every other stanza ends with the refrain: “This world of ours is full of love / when you are here with me.” Curiously, although this cub has two present, caregiving adults, the narrative, presumably addressed to the child, uses the first-person singular. The baby bear is presented as gender-neutral, first in orange-and-green polka-dot pajamas and then in blue jeans with a white shirt graced with yellow ducks. Although neither adult bear is gendered in the text, the illustrations use stereotypical cues: One wears a yellow dress decorated with hearts; the other wears a striped shirt (and no trousers). No one can miss that the baby bear is the adults’ little darling.

Sweet—but more for adults than children. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-603-9

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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