123 CATS


Cat lovers will adore this beguiling board book.

Meow! Meet and count a dozen charismatic kitties.

A captivating selection of frolicking felines participate in familiar, kitty-centric activities, such as napping, snuggling, and snacking. Each double-page spread adds another kitty until No. 12, a tiny cream-colored kitten, closes the party—because he “knows that cats come better by the dozen!” Though the rhyming text is easy enough to read aloud, some stanzas feel safe and a bit stale: “Cat Number Six feels like she’s in heaven / when she’s snuggled up with Cat Number Seven.” However, beautiful illustrations, rendered via sumi ink on watercolors, elevate the verses. Each cat—from a fluffy ginger tabby to a slinky Sphynx—is imbued with a unique look and personality. Cats tugging on toys, using stairs as a playground, or grooming each other brim with charm, and going from Cat No. 1 to a cramped cavalcade of 12 of them easily demonstrates number progression. Although Newman took few risks in the text of this book, she goes the opposite direction in ABC Cats, giving readers delightful, vocabulary-rich lines that beg to be read with panache: “Elegant cat with dignified pose / Finicky cat turns up her nose.” An oversized letter is paired with a demonstrative cat (S, for instance, introduces a wary, eyes-wide “scaredy-cat”), and all 26 entries in the cattery are purr-fectly entrancing.

Cat lovers will adore this beguiling board book. (Board book. 1-6)

Pub Date: April 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0995-2

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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