Just right for little gardeners.


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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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.


Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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