High appeal to fans of Cousins but not revolutionary in the field of books about parent-child love.

LITTLE FISH AND MOMMY

From the Little Fish series

Mommy Fish and Little Fish swim, play, and explore.

Cousins’ rhyming board book is all about mother-child love. Little Fish describes a day with Mommy Fish spent playing peekaboo, exploring a cave while conquering fears, and sharing kisses. Cousins’ trademark style is on full display with the bright, gouache illustrations and hand-lettered text. The illustrations are simple yet bold and inviting. They work especially well on a spread full of brightly swimming fish, alive with color that appears to create texture. Both Little Fish and Mommy Fish wear the same expressions throughout the story, excepting their kiss at the end, conveying a vague sense of happy awe. While it aligns with the simplicity of the illustrations, it doesn’t quite fit with all of Little Fish’s experiences. Little Fish’s gender is not named, enhancing its accessibility to readers. As narrated, many of Little Fish’s observations read as appropriately childlike, such as “My mommy’s orange, just like me. We both have yellow spots” (a statement that may make this book difficult to share in mixed-race and/or adoptive families). The verse works well, save the last page which bends a grammar rule to push along the rhyme. Overall, the pacing and the rhythm are the right amount of bounce for a little one on a lap.

High appeal to fans of Cousins but not revolutionary in the field of books about parent-child love. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0612-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

THE ABCS OF LOVE

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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