The illustrations invite children to take their time finding animals and figuring out their activities; the text would...


The names of several animals that might inhabit a cypress swamp, along with a plethora of verbs, adorn pages full of brightly colored animals, plants and water.

The opening double-page spread depicts a half-submerged alligator, a generic wading bird, other aquatic life, a lurking, half-hidden mammal, and insects flitting about; the text reads, “In the swamp…water ripples.” The final spread, similar but also purposefully including a fish in another wading bird’s mouth, says, “Water ripples in the swamp.” In between are close-up, cartoonlike depictions of various critters, each glossed with a few words: “Dragonflies swoop. Dip. // Crayfish crawl. Carry. / Bullfrogs wait. Lay.” (It is unclear what, if any, are the objects of the transitive verbs. Carry minnows? Lay eggs?) Later, more active watercolor-and-ink drawings show animals eating other animals, with phrases such as “Bullfrogs pounce. Gulp.” There is a nice interruption of rhythm when the alligators emerge on land with a sudden “Alligators CHOMP!” It is unclear until the endnote that the text and illustrations are attempting to show a cypress swamp food chain in action.

The illustrations invite children to take their time finding animals and figuring out their activities; the text would sparkle equally if the author had played more with rhyme, rhythm and alliteration. (Informational picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2407-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer.


From the Peppa Pig series

Peppa hopes to join her classmates in a Halloween pumpkin competition in this adaptation of a story from the popular British television program Peppa Pig.

With the help of Granny and Grandpa Pig, Peppa turns her giant pumpkin, which is the size of a compact car, into a jack-o’-lantern. The trio is flummoxed when it comes time to transport the pumpkin to the competition, so they call on Miss Rabbit and her helicopter to airlift the pumpkin to the festivities as Peppa and her grandparents ride inside. Peppa arrives just in time for the contest and wins the prize for best flying pumpkin. The scenes look as if they are pulled directly from the television show, right down to the rectangular framing of some of the scenes. While the story is literally nothing new, the text is serviceable, describing the action in two to three sentences per page. The pumpkin-shaped book and orange foil cover will likely attract youngsters, whether they are Peppa fans or not.

This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-33922-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Fun format; bland text.


From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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