Just right for little gardeners.

HELLO, GARDEN!

A gentle board book follows two toddlers through a busy day in a backyard garden.

Two unnamed tots stretch and yawn to greet the sunshine and sunflowers outside the bedroom window. These siblings are light-skinned with curly brown hair while their mother is brown-skinned and their bearded father is even paler than the children. The focus throughout is on the natural wonders this interracial family discovers while tending their garden. Detailed drawings add information. The second spread shows a belowground cross section with ant tunnels and dandelion roots—and one child’s bare feet above. Six four-line stanzas use an abcb rhyme scheme. Rhyming fly with high and seed with weed works nicely, but pea and leaf is a bit of a stretch. What is clear is these big-eyed children’s sense of wonder. They willingly “crunch a green bean. / Snap a pea” and even “pluck some kale.” There is whimsy too. A snail almost as big as one of the children also nibbles on the kale, and a mouse chomping a strawberry underground is not bothered by the earthworms that share the soil with carrots. The story ends as it began, with the two children tucked into beds, just like the fruits and vegetables. “Sun sets. / Flowers close tired eyes. // Young plants rest. / Growing tomorrow’s surprise.”

Just right for little gardeners. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: May 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7643-6109-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Schiffer

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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