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)