Warm, inviting nonfiction, especially for those new to the genre.

As is true with tiny humans, play is important in young animals’ development.

Judge looks closely at 27 different animals and the playful habits of their young. Sometimes play helps animals learn how to forage and hunt. Other times, it can be practice for following rules. For some, it can even mean survival. Each subtopic is allotted two double-page spreads. In a dramatic setup scene, a large, bold statement declares an observation, such as: “Many young animals ask first before playing.” Judge depicts one young chimp approaching another that is cradled in mom’s embrace. A smattering of vignettes follows in the next spread. “A young chimpanzee swings his head and shoulders from side to side….That is his way of asking his friend, ‘Do you want to play with me?’ ” However, a sea lion pup “approaches another while holding a piece of kelp that serves as a toy, then quickly swims away.” Kids will delight in comparing their own actions to those of the baby animals. The variety is also impressive: Red river hogs cavort in these pages, along with bottlenose dolphins and wallaby joeys. Judge’s realistic illustrations are both endearing and expressive. Energetic moments are expertly captured. Tufts of fur fly; young ones are caught midpounce or with trunks held high, sending water splashing. The most appealing? The mischievous gleam of fun in everyone’s eyes.

Warm, inviting nonfiction, especially for those new to the genre. (additional facts, glossary, sources, recommended websites) (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23706-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020


From the Celebrate the World series

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project.

The Celebrate the World series spotlights Lunar New Year.

This board book blends expository text and first-person-plural narrative, introducing readers to the holiday. Chau’s distinctive, finely textured watercolor paintings add depth, transitioning smoothly from a grand cityscape to the dining room table, from fantasies of the past to dumplings of the present. The text attempts to provide a broad look at the subject, including other names for the celebration, related cosmology, and historical background, as well as a more-personal discussion of traditions and practices. Yet it’s never clear who the narrator is—while the narrative indicates the existence of some consistent, monolithic group who participates in specific rituals of celebration (“Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes—and ourselves!”), the illustrations depict different people in every image. Indeed, observances of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the people who celebrate it, which neither the text nor the images—all of the people appear to be Asian—fully acknowledges. Also unclear is the book’s intended audience. With large blocks of explication on every spread, it is entirely unappealing for the board-book set, and the format may make it equally unattractive to an older, more appropriate audience. Still, readers may appreciate seeing an important celebration warmly and vibrantly portrayed.

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3303-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019


From the Beginner Books series

Smoother rides are out there.

Mommy and Bonnie—two anthropomorphic rodents—go for a joyride and notice a variety of conveyances around their busy town.

The pair encounter 22 types of vocational vehicles as they pass various sites, including a fire engine leaving a firehouse, a school bus approaching a school, and a tractor trailer delivering goods to a supermarket. Narrated in rhyming quatrains, the book describes the jobs that each wheeled machine does. The text uses simple vocabulary and sentences, with sight words aplenty. Some of the rhymes don't scan as well as others, and the description of the mail truck’s role ("A mail truck brings / letters and cards / to mailboxes / in people's yards) ignores millions of readers living in yardless dwellings. The colorful digitally illustrated spreads are crowded with animal characters of every type hustling and bustling about. Although the art is busy, observant viewers may find humor in details such as a fragile item falling out of a moving truck, a line of ducks holding up traffic, and a squirrel’s spilled ice cream. For younger children enthralled by vehicles, Sally Sutton’s Roadwork (2011) and Elizabeth Verdick’s Small Walt series provide superior text and art and kinder humor. Children who have little interest in cars, trucks, and construction equipment may find this offering a yawner. Despite being advertised as a beginner book, neither text nor art recommend this as an engaging choice for children starting to read independently. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Smoother rides are out there. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-37725-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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