Ideal bedtime read-aloud.

Night approaches, and lion cubs head for home.

With the “moon ripe and round,” 10 little lions hear “evening’s sounds” and know it’s time to “run along home.” Along the way, one watches a monkey “bouncing a babe on its knee.” Two see a cobra wave its tail and hear zebras bray and a tree frog peep. Three little lions sprint across sand dunes, four inspect a honeybee nest, five splash across a stream, and six peek at elephants tramping along and wildebeests running. On their way home, seven are caught in the rain, and eight tired little lions stop to rest, stretch, and purr. Home at last, nine little lions are ready for bed, and finally all 10 listen to “evening’s lullaby,” snuggle up, and sleep “cuddled by night.” Relying on repetition and rhyme, the text generates a gentle, soporific cadence as the little lions progress homeward, distracted by evening sights and sounds along the way. The painterly, realistic illustrations create the feel of approaching night, transitioning gradually from golds, browns, and greens to dreamy mauves, violets, and grays. Opening with a scene of 10 fuzzy, engaging cubs together, the double-page spreads track their progress from different perspectives and in ascending numerical groups across a stream, over sand dunes, atop tree branches, and beneath leaves until all 10 reunite with their mother under the “moon’s wide eye.”

Ideal bedtime read-aloud. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0982-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021


Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016


Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

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 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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