Perhaps an accurate portrayal of toddler life but missing a bit of wonder.

STEPPIN' OUT

PLAYFUL RHYMES FOR TODDLER TIMES

The babies from Little Poems for Tiny Ears (2014) grow into toddlers and explore their world.

Nineteen poems follow youngsters as they swing open the front door (a nifty, unexpected gatefold) and step outside to see what awaits. Alas, this collection does not have the same liveliness as Oliver’s previous one. Short verses still have snap: “The swing / Is a fling / In / The / Air.” But longer ones seem forced, as when the black librarian exclaims, “So many kinds of stories / Are there for you to find. / A book’s a special treasure / To delight your busy mind.” A multiracial cast of tots explore a set of toddler-specific experiences: a first haircut (“She holds my hand and we begin. / Snip, snip, snip—and then a trim”), the unjustness of a one-toy limit at the store (“When we go shopping in the mall, / I look around and want it all!”), a sandbox skirmish (“When he bent down and grabbed my shovel / I knew that we were in for trouble”). DePaola’s trademark palette warms and brightens, but too many joyful moments are replaced with explanatory verses, adult-delivered information sadly substituting for discovery.

Perhaps an accurate portrayal of toddler life but missing a bit of wonder. (Picture book/poetry. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17434-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Delicious on its own, and it will pair well with other books about gardens, plants and healthy eating habits.

PLANTS FEED ME

This simplest of informational picture books offers a sensible, sunny celebration of the plants—specifically the parts of plants—that we eat.

The opening scene shows a boy seated at table surrounded by a rich harvest. He’s holding a watermelon rind that mirrors the wide grin he wears, helping to set the good-natured tone of the book. As preschoolers examine the pages, they will learn about the featured fruits and vegetables and how they grew. Warm gouache-and–colored-pencil illustrations first depict a garden where “Plants reach up for the sun. / They grow down in the ground.” As the narrator goes on to explain that “I eat different parts from different plants,” such as roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, flowers and seeds, youngsters will find labeled images to peruse. The short, declarative sentences are easily digested by the very youngest and will tempt burgeoning readers to test their skills. Best of all, children will surely be inspired to taste some of the produce the next time it appears on their plates.

Delicious on its own, and it will pair well with other books about gardens, plants and healthy eating habits. (Informational picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2526-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Great for storytime or for little monkeys who need encouragement to run around.

SPUNKY LITTLE MONKEY

Every little monkey needs to get up and move!

“Sleepy Little Monkey / Won’t get out of bed. // Mama called the Doctor / And the Doctor said: / ‘Apple Juice, / Orange Juice, / Gooseberry Pies— / Monkey needs / some exercise!’ ” Little Monkey pops out of bed and, after dressing, does some quick calisthenics. “First you get the rhythm of the head: / Ding-Dong! // Have you got the rhythm of the head? / Ding-Dong!” A sway of the head accompanies each ding-dong. Then there’s a clap and a stomp. There’s some hip shaking. “Put them all together / You’ll be feeling so much better.” Monkey goes through the movements forward and backward and gives a cheer. “Spunky Little Monkey / Ready for the day. / Come on, Monkey— / LET’S GO PLAY!” A frequent collaborator of the deceased Martin’s, Sampson turns out a rhythmic invitation to wiggle in the morning. The text's catchy enough that little monkeys will want to hear it again and simple enough they’ll learn it quickly. Won’s big, bright digital illustrations (made from scanned watercolor washes) feature an adorable, rosy-cheeked monkey of indeterminate gender in jean shorts and striped T-shirt going through the motions before running off with animal friends. It may be a bit unclear exactly what motions are called for each time, but Little Monkey's moving, and that's the point.

Great for storytime or for little monkeys who need encouragement to run around. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-77643-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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