A vicarious walk in the woods probably best suited to those with direct experience of a forest hike.

FOREST BABY

A mom takes her toddler, bundled into a baby backpack, on a walk through the woods.

The text, though lyrical, lacks immediacy. Written in a second-person present tense, it nevertheless comes across as relating what has been seen rather than what is being seen right then. Robinson depicts the pair, changing perspective with each page in a way that is artful but also disorienting to a toddler audience. The pair “reach to leafy maples with winged seeds” and “bend to a painted turtle stretching in the sun.” Another illustration shows the baby’s chubby fingers disturbing a school of minnows. (Exactly how this is accomplished from the confines of a baby backpack is unclear.) When Elmquist describes a dragonfly as a “jewel of blue and green,” both the perspective and palette change, with the dragonfly shown large and mother and baby smaller on a distant path. The woods disappear completely on the second-to-last spread when baby is shown flying in mama’s hands against a bright blue sky alongside 11 (count them) orange butterflies. The pairs’ ethnicities are undefined. The smiling, alert child in a bright yellow shirt and purple knit hat has light skin, while mama is a pony-tailed brunette with slightly darker skin. What is clear is that they are both enjoying a magical encounter with nature.

A vicarious walk in the woods probably best suited to those with direct experience of a forest hike. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1333-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Take it, or leave it.

THE ITSY BITSY SNOWMAN

A wintertime story that can be sung to the tune of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

The itsy bitsy snowman and his friends are playing in the snow. They climb up a snowy hill, jump on a sled, slide fast, and zip past children skating on ice. Then, though the text tells readers that he “dodged a snowball fight,” his head becomes separated from his body. Not to worry, “out came his friends / to lend a happy hand.” In the last spread the itsy bitsy snowman stands with his mom, dad, and friends, “And everything was perfect / in his winter wonderland.” The story, intended to be read to the tune of the beloved nursery rhyme, doesn’t always quite fit the template, as in: “The itsy bitsy snowman / climbed up the snowy hill. // He jumped on a sled / and slid fast…what a thrill!” For no obvious reason, on every page one word is printed in a different color from the rest of the text. Rescek’s illustrations are bright, cheery, and cartoonlike, with an appropriate wintry pale blue as the dominant color. Though sweet and cute, there is nothing particularly fresh or new here.

Take it, or leave it. (Board book. 1-2)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4837-6

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Ideal for parents, whether going it alone or together, and for the babies and toddlers they love.

LEO LOVES DADDY

A fun-loving daddy’s dedication is apparent in this slice-of-life board book.

Leo, a brown-skinned boy with tight curls, full lips, and a broad nose, delights in playing with Daddy, who has equally clearly Black features. Leo wakes up to Daddy tickling his tummy. Then this superinvolved father fixes pancakes, dances, takes Leo on a bike ride, and tends to Leo’s scraped knee. Together they build with blocks, take a bath, and snuggle with a book before bed. Companion title Leo Loves Mommy follows a similar trajectory through the day. Leo builds a blanket fort with couch cushions, practices yoga, and paints with his mother, who also presents Black. After a bike ride, mommy’s lunch “is so flashy”: celery and carrot sticks turned into edible critters with fruit and nuts. The loving devotion of both parents is tangible and genuine, sweet but not cloying. Simple two-line sentences with unobtrusive rhymes across spreads provide descriptions of the activities and add vocabulary. Each spread illustrates one event against a clear solid color background, free of distracting decoration. Together they complete a full picture of a busy toddler’s day and his loving relationship with each parent.

Ideal for parents, whether going it alone or together, and for the babies and toddlers they love. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-241-2

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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