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

DOZY BEAR AND THE SECRET OF SLEEP

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. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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