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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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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Simple words and big concepts will make this a godsend to parents at their wit's end.

BYE-BYE BINKY

From the Big Kid Power series

This book seeks to use the power of persuasion to vanquish that most formidable of opponents: toddlers.

In this entry in the Big Kid Power series, a little black girl makes no bones about the fact that pacifiers (or “binkies”) are strictly baby territory. When she was little she needed one, but that was then. Whether she’s tired, sad, or hungry, there are other ways of being comforted: hugs and polite requests, for instance. After she gives her binky to a baby and bids it a very clear goodbye, the book ends with a triumphant, “I’M A BIG KID!” Using a striking color combination of orange, brown, and black, van Lieshout keeps her pages bold and bright, complementing the simple vocabulary. Such declarations as, “Do I still have a binky? // NO, BIG KIDS DON’T NEED A BINKY. / NOPE!” leave scant wiggle room for argument. In her author’s note at the end, van Lieshout says that after speaking to many parents about how they helped their kids bid their pacifiers adieu, “many of them had in common…a ritual of some sort.” The ritual here seems to be giving the pacifier away, though it may be missed by many readers. Companion title I Use the Potty uses a similar approach, with a proud, white boy as its guide.

Simple words and big concepts will make this a godsend to parents at their wit's end. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3536-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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