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



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. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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We’ll say it: a toothsome experience.


Flash those pearly whites!

Renowned poet Florian’s jaunty rhymes suggest that a hygiene ritual many children consider bothersome can be “fun! fun! fun!” Each spread features lively scenes showing kids demonstrating tooth- and mouth-cleansing techniques as well as two couplets in which the second exclamatory lines—containing a word repeated three times—rhyme with each other (“Toothpaste on the / brush! brush! brush!” “Take your time. / Don’t rush! rush! rush!”). Parents and caregivers seeking an enjoyable, stimulating way to motivate youngsters to perform this important daily task may wish to recite the rollicking verses to provide a pleasant, rhythmic, chanting “background” whenever their kids wield their toothbrushes. The colorful, energetic illustrations depict happy, wide-eyed, racially diverse small children—some with missing teeth—taking care of their oral-hygiene business with gusto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

We’ll say it: a toothsome experience. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1340-1

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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


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. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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