Romantic and attractive but ultimately unsatisfying.

BEAR HUG

A childlike version of a bear’s life story.

Recognizing that winter is coming, a young bear prepares, just as he learned to do from his parents. He makes a warm bed in his cave, catches fish and finds berries to eat, and finds a companion for the long winter’s sleep. They wake up in the spring to another season and a cub to teach in turn. This sweet story of Mama and Papa raising their child together is, sadly, directly contrary to the facts of brown bear life. Brown bears are usually solitary. Like nearly 30 percent of the children in this country, bear cubs are raised by a single parent. Male and female parents share neither winter dens nor parenting duties. McEwen has illustrated her idyllic depiction of family life with appealing earth-toned collages. The bears’ natural world includes stylized trees and snowflakes, a “shivery river” filled with “fat silvery fish,” and grand birds. At one point, the family perches on a bee tree from which one parent pulls a ribbon of honey. Some illustrations are full-bleed, sometimes extending across a spread, while others spill out of a background frame. The gentle text, set in a very thin serif type, is sometimes difficult to distinguish from the textured background.

Romantic and attractive but ultimately unsatisfying. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6630-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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