Just as purposive as the runaway bestseller but significantly more palatable.

Following on the unearned success of Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin’s The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep (2015), a slightly more artful take on the same relaxation techniques.

Dozy Bear crawls into his den every night, thinks of all the other animals who are fast asleep, but evidently cannot fall asleep himself. Dozy’s family coaxes him in turn to somnolence. Mama tells him to close his eyes and “snuggle down”; Papa takes him through a physical relaxation sequence; Nana impresses on him how soft his bed is; and Grampy tells him to listen to the quiet of the night. Certain key words are italicized, cuing adult readers to emphasize them: “He’d think of all the other / animals, fast asleep….” Variations on the word “sleep” appear some 30 times, along with other suggestive words such as “snoring,” “settle,” and “stillness.” Dozy’s mama leads him through some deep breathing (“Deep, long breaths, innn—and—ouuuuuut, / innn—and—ouuuuuut, innn—and—ouuuuuut”), which finally renders Dozy “a little bundle of sleep.” Smythe’s twilight-colored collage illustrations look as though they’ve been tinted with watercolor and then scribbled over with crayon, giving them a childlike feel. Poor composition and the choice to make Dozy and his family virtually indistinguishable from one another result in some illustrations that will puzzle readers who haven’t already conked out.

Just as purposive as the runaway bestseller but significantly more palatable. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-256426-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017



Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016


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 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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