There are clearer ways to teach children about feelings than this.

An interactive book on emotions based on the popular children’s song “The Wheels on the Bus.”

In this bus-shaped board book, a group of animals stands in for the “kids” on the bus. As the passengers—including a fox assisting a hippo who sits in a wheelchair—come on board, the lyrics riff off the original: “The feelings on the bus go round and round, all ’round the town.” Then, spread by spread, a pig “waves Hi, hi, hi”; a monkey “says Sit! sit! sit!”; a bird “says Look! look! look!”; a bear “laughs Hee, hee, hee”; and the hippo “yells Whee! whee! whee!” Meanwhile, as the passengers’ antics increase, the face of the driver (a tiger) is slowly changing from placid and smiley to a big open-mouthed yell: “The driver on the bus calls Shh! shh! shh!” As readers sing along with the book they may wonder what makes it a book on emotions. What they have probably overlooked is a small, round die-cut hole that focuses images on a wheel that children can spin to match the actions with an emotion that’s portrayed emoticon-style, with the word underneath. As the matching of emotion to action isn’t always obvious (“hi” goes with “shy,” and “sit” goes with “friendly”), children will only know they got it right if they spin the wheel in exact order with the pages.

There are clearer ways to teach children about feelings than this. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6825-8

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020


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


From the Little Blue Truck series

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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