Short, simple, sweet and stimulating.

POOKIE'S SNOW DAY

A hedgehog heads home when he realizes that winter is imminent.

Pookie makes his way across the changing landscape in the hope that he can get home before cold weather sets in. The plot, it seems, lies in helping the wee hedgehog get home safely and without too much discomfort. Readers are asked to help him find food, chart his course across a flowing river and dress him in warm clothes. There are a few other tasks most preschoolers will delight in, including making snowflakes appear, popping them and helping a tree shed its leaves. Take away the Tamagotchi-like busywork, however, and eight pages could easily be reduced to two. In addition to the story itself, though, there’s a bonus that at first glance looks like a run-of-the-mill paint feature. But upon further examination, readers will find a unique storyboard interface. Backgrounds can be changed, and objects from the story can be imported and scaled. Additionally, if kids want to add their own artistic flair to the composition, they can paint directly on a superimposed layer that can be discarded without trashing anything else. Second- and third-generation iPad users have another nifty option: taking a photo and using it as a (nonscalable) backdrop. Completed creations can be saved, exported to Facebook or emailed.

Short, simple, sweet and stimulating. (iPad storybook app. 18 mos.-5)

Pub Date: April 11, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Gutpela

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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