WHAT CAN YOU SEE? AT NIGHT

Get an insider’s look at nocturnal life in this die-cut board book.

Touching briefly on various facets of human and animal nightlife, pages range from a farmer milking cows “before sunrise” while the rooster cock-a-doodle-doos to more natural settings, such as wetlands with bats hunting and frogs singing. There’s plenty to see on the busy pages—perhaps too much. Besides the primary text of accurate but generic statements about night, small bubbles filled with questions such as “What noise do frogs make?” or small factoids informing readers that “Frogs like to sing at night” hover arbitrarily about the page. With the different typefaces and text formats, pages lack visual focus, especially when print is sprinkled among the many mildly anthropomorphized animals and hectic backgrounds. Some die cuts are equally strained. While the largest center die cut effectively creates the illusion of a layered night sky, the fiddly, teeny die cuts sporadically placed across the page are too small to show much clearly and are sometimes misaligned from the picture underneath. Semirealistic illustrations with a Little Golden Book vibe are competent and capture the night environs reasonably well, and the extra-thick cardboard pages seem ready for tough toddler handling. Another book in the series, What Can You See? On the Farm, shares the same whimsical animals and chaotic format.

Adequate if overly busy. (Board book. 2-4 )

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-615-2

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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ROCK-A-BYE BABY

A riff on the familiar lullaby depicts various animal parents, and then a human father, soothing their sleepy little ones.

An opening spread includes the traditional first verse of the titular lullaby, but instead of depicting a human baby in a treetop cradle, the accompanying illustration shows a large tree as habitat to the animals that are highlighted on subsequent pages. First the perspective zooms in on a painterly illustration rendered in acrylics of a mother squirrel cuddling her baby with text reading “Rock-a-bye Squirrel, / high in the tree, / in Mommy’s arms, / cozy as can be.” In this spread and others the cadence doesn’t quite fit with the familiar tune, and repeated verses featuring different animals—all opening with the “Rock-a-bye” line—don’t give way to the resolution. No winds blow, no boughs break, and the repetitive forced rhythm of the verse could cause stumbles when attempting a read-aloud. The final image of a human father and baby, whose skin tone and hair texture suggest that they are perhaps of South Asian descent, provides pleasing visual resolution in a book with art that outshines text.

Ho-hum. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3753-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.

SHARKS

From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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