THE BIRTHDAY BOX

Patricelli, author of several board books, graduates prematurely from cardboard to paper pages for this cheery birthday monologue narrated by a toddler who gets more play mileage out of a big box than the puppy it holds. Using bright, appealingly smudged colors and very simple, boldly outlined shapes, she depicts a diaper-clad child unwrapping the carton, hugging it in delight, then, accompanied by the puppy soon discovered inside, transforming it into an airplane, a ship and a robot before finally nestling down inside for a nap. The narrative voice is older than the child in the pictures, and next to Antoinette Portis’s Not a Box (2006), and several other takes on the familiar premise, this lacks the emotional range allowed by a longer format. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-7636-2825-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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Though it’s fairly unoriginal at its core, this story’s charismatic star will have appeal in dog-loving households.

LATKE, THE LUCKY DOG

A rescued dog chosen as a Hanukkah present at an animal shelter relates his good luck as he learns to adapt to his new family and home.

Zoe and Zach welcome their new pet, a playful, medium-sized, golden-brown dog, and name him Latke (he’s exactly the color of one). The newest member of the family assumes all the celebratory aspects of the eight-day Hanukkah holiday are just for him and innocently creates a mild disturbance on each night. Latke eats the sufganiyot and latkes, rips open presents, chews up the dreidels and candles, slobbers all over the chocolate gelt and knocks the bowl of applesauce over. With each mishap, Zoe and Zach find a way to forgive, letting the curious new dog know he is very fortunate indeed. Ever remorseful, Latke finally accepts his own gift of a chew toy and understands he is one lucky dog to be part of a great family. Latke relates his own story, folding his innocent misdeeds into the basic structure of the eight nights of remembrance. Simple, childlike gouache scenes favor the star of the story, a sweet and personable mutt sporting floppy black ears against a brown happy face. He has rather more personality than the overall presentation, which cannot shed its inherent didacticism.

Though it’s fairly unoriginal at its core, this story’s charismatic star will have appeal in dog-loving households. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9038-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A feast…at least for the eyes, and much better for the teeth.

BAKE A RAINBOW CAKE!

It’s all about the colors in this board-book version of the virally popular “rainbow explosion” cake.

The cake, which stars in many online videos and slide shows, is actually all about the sprinkles, evoked here with a combination of multihued spinners or sliders and hundreds of tiny holes punched into the sturdy cover and stock. Kassem, a New York City specialist baker, recaps its creation…without specific ingredients but step by step in the simplest language: “Pour it! / Mix it! // Color it!” The images are abstract enough that the result never really looks like food, but young digerati are unlikely to care as they’re directed to choose colors for each of the six layers, pull a tab to watch them rise in the oven, then see all but the top layer hollowed out before being stacked in rainbow order (sans indigo) and finally filled with a column of sprinkles that will pour out in a climactic rush (“Surprise!”) when the finished cake, its outside likewise sprinkle encrusted, is sliced. Chavarri’s simple illustrations flash with oversaturated hues, each succeeding double-page spread being somehow brighter than the last one, until the final uncomplicated pop-up unfolds in a grand shower of confetti and sprinkles. Budding chefs may find the recipe-based approach in Lotta Niemenen’s Cook in a Book series more to their taste, but for sheer energy and dazzle, this is hard to beat.

A feast…at least for the eyes, and much better for the teeth. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3746-6

Page Count: 10

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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