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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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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Attractive but disappointing.

WILD ANIMAL SOUNDS

From the Little Kids First Board Book series

National Geographic brings its gorgeous, accurate wildlife photography to toddlers.

One double-page spread is devoted to each of 10 animals (some may feel that calling chipmunks, frogs, and ducks “wild” is stretching it a bit). The animals hail from all over the map—from an elephant and a zebra to a black bear and a wolf. The sound each creature makes begins the text, followed by a sentence speculating what the animal might be communicating. Six of the spreads highlight an additional animal fact in a bright yellow circle. White thought bubbles on seven spreads that attempt to inject humor are less successful. For example, in response to the wolf’s howl, the wolf pups think, “Should we answer?” Similarly, on a different spread, the primary text reads, “Roar! Time for dinner, the mother tiger calls.” The tiger cub wonders in response, “What’s the catch of the day?” The typical board-book audience of babies and toddlers will not get the jokes, and preschoolers are ready for more-substantial books. The needless anthropomorphization detracts from what could be simple, useful nonfiction. The final spread reprises six of the animals in a guessing game to “Match the animals with the sounds they make.” Ocean, published simultaneously, is similarly formatted (and flawed), but all the creatures featured share the ocean habitat.

Attractive but disappointing. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3466-5

Page Count: 26

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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