From the Mindfulness Moments for Kids series

With or without cocoa, savor this one slowly, especially on long winter days when toddlers are stuck indoors.

Nothing much really happens in this board book, and that’s perfectly OK.

Instead, following the pattern set in previous titles in the Mindfulness Moments for Kids series, Willey, a children’s yoga-and-mindfulness musician, translates the philosophy of mindfulness into practical, everyday terms. On a chilly day, Fox, the anthropomorphic protagonist, joins a small group of friends (who are also all anthropomorphic animals) in the forest to drink hot cocoa. The text demonstrates how a simple act like enjoying a hot drink can be treated as a mindfulness exercise. Fox brings her attention to the present moment as she blows on the hot cocoa, deeply inhales the delicious aroma, then sips and savors the treat. Young readers are guided to slow their breath and breathe in and out along with Fox: “Fox blows on her hot cocoa to cool it off. Can you blow on your hot cocoa?” The simple language makes each step of the process very clear: “Slooowly blow the air out.” The animals appear distinctly meditative as they sit cross-legged with eyes closed, patiently waiting for the cocoa to grow cool. The result? “Now Fox feels warm, cozy, and calm.” The illustrations, rendered in bright, almost psychedelic colors with colored snowflakes shining in the animals’ fur, is a striking contrast to the book’s calming message.

With or without cocoa, savor this one slowly, especially on long winter days when toddlers are stuck indoors. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11987-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021


Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021


A joyful celebration.

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. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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