An earnest glimpse into a youngster's familiar relationships falls flat. (Board book. 1-3)

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FRIENDS

Unlike his real-life counterparts, this toddler always asks for permission instead of forgiveness.

Slegers' star from Bathing (2011) returns to introduce the family members, pets and toys close to his heart. The tot's quiet interactions receive a proper, if unrealistic portrayal in this Dutch translation. The youngster always inquires before engaging in even the most innocuous behavior. (He even seeks permission from the fish before watching him swimming in the bowl.) There's an unnatural formality at war with his chipper voice. “Hello, my older sister. / May I play with you? / Playing together is so much fun!” The name of the specific pet/loved one is highlighted in bold type. The characters' large, round heads (necks lacking) overwhelm the rest of their bodies. Perpetual smiles are in sync with the Stepfordian atmosphere. A stronger selection, companion Sounds, displays a similar pattern with its focus on the individual's experience; a more natural communication style highlights the boy's observations of a variety of commonly heard noises.

An earnest glimpse into a youngster's familiar relationships falls flat. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60537-112-2

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Another branded entry that offers little beyond the minimum requirements.

TRICK OR TREAT, POUT-POUT FISH

From the Pout-Pout Fish Mini Adventure series

The Pout-Pout Fish brand expands.

Halloween is here, and Mr. Pout-Pout Fish is giving out treats from his submarine home. Those familiar with the blue striped fish will find the usual uncluttered illustrations and rhyming scheme (“Who’s at the helm / of the spooky submarine? // It’s you, Mr. Fish! / Have a happy Halloween!”). New readers may be drawn in by the colorful costumes the various fish wear as they trick-or-treat along the ocean floor. Keen-eyed readers with some pumpkin-carving experience may wonder how a jack-o’-lantern can be lit under water. This board book is a fairly standard look at Halloween, putting a popular character in common holiday trappings and adding nothing else. Fans of the holiday will have to look elsewhere for a more exciting take on Halloween’s thrills.

Another branded entry that offers little beyond the minimum requirements. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30191-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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If the point is to help children understand and accept their feelings, this effort is a failure. If the point is to sell...

KISS, KISS, POUT-POUT FISH

From the Pout-Pout Fish series

The Pout-Pout Fish brand expands.

None of the fish in this sea look like anything living outside the cartoon-cute world of Pout-Pout Fish, but that's just the beginning of the problems with this board-book addition to the franchise. The Pout-Pout Fish on the cover and every page of this offering doesn't look pouty at all. Slightly bemused, a bit surprised, maybe—but definitely not pouty. In fact, all of the cartoony creatures swimming in this fantasy sea share the same bug-eyed, slightly kissy-face expression. The rhyming message is that there are many ways to share it—a wave, a smile, holding hands (or fins), making silly faces, a hug, or a kiss—but there’s only one thing to call it: love. What is disturbing is that Mr. Fish seems to have only one choice—to accept love however it is offered. Giving children (or little fish) permission to trust their own feelings might be a more appropriate message.

If the point is to help children understand and accept their feelings, this effort is a failure. If the point is to sell Pout-Pout product, it might succeed. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-30190-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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