In rhyming verse, a series of “if…then” statements presents animals and their young while expressing parental love.

Unfortunately, the slight concept is brought down by a number of missteps. The first is poor logic, evident from the opening parent-child animal pair: “If you were a calf, then I’d be a moose.” While it is true that baby moose are called calves, they are hardly the only animals whose young bear that moniker. Even children with very little exposure to the concept will likely know that baby cattle are also called calves, and they may well know that elephant and whale babies are called calves as well. So why, if they were a calf, would their parent necessarily be a moose? Several other examples share this weakness, including chicks (loons), kits (skunks), and pups (bats)—and these are just in the first two double-page spreads. Even when the name for the baby is sufficiently restrictive for the logic to work, stumbling verse often lets readers down: “If you were a cygnet, then I’d be a swan. / I’d teach you to ride on my back, just hop on!” Saylor’s cut-paper–collage illustrations are bright and attractive, depicting smiling but otherwise fairly realistic animal pairs. They replicate a frequent error, however, in representing a wasps’ nest instead of the beehive it’s meant to be (possibly wisely, there is no attempt to depict the “larva” of the verse).

Misses the mark . (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61067-746-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Adults wishing to expand the worldviews of their young charges beyond Eurocentric interpretations will find plenty of visual...


From the Once Upon a World series

A retelling of the classic fairy tale with India as its setting.

This latest addition to the Once Upon A World series tells the well-known story of the maiden with beautiful long tresses locked away in a tower by an evil witch and the prince who falls in love with her. As with Perkins’ Cinderella (illustrated by Sandra Equihua, 2016) and Snow White (illustrated by Misa Saburi, 2016), the text has been simplified for a younger audience, and the distinguishing twist here is its setting in India. The mixed-media illustrations of plants, animals, village life, and, of course, Rapunzel, the witch, and the prince come alive in warm, saturated colors. Other than the visuals, there is little to differentiate the story from traditional tellings. As always, it is still the prince who will eventually lead Rapunzel to her salvation by taking her to his kingdom far away from the witch, but that is the nature of fairy tales. The only quibble with this book and indeed with this series is the board-book format. Given the fact that the audience most likely to enjoy it is beyond the board-book age, a full-size book would have done more justice to the vibrant artwork.

Adults wishing to expand the worldviews of their young charges beyond Eurocentric interpretations will find plenty of visual delights in this one, though they’ll wish it were bigger. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9072-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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From the My First Fairy Tales series

This board-book retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” features colorful, retro-style illustrations and a few movable flaps.

This version of the red-caped protagonist sports a distinctive cone-shaped hood as she enacts the familiar motions of the story. The sturdy interactions include a swinging basket, a blanket that covers the wolf on Grandma’s bed, a spinner that depicts the wolf’s dreams; they give younger kids something to manipulate but do not add much to the story. There are regrettable inaccuracies and elisions in Bradley’s adaptation of Maurin’s translation of the original French text. The neck of a bottle protrudes from the basket, which readers are told contains “cake and butter” for Grandma, and the wolf wears a pair of frilly pajamas, which the text calls “one of [Grandma’s] nightgowns.” This quick story ends with the hunter shown wielding a pair of scissors on the wolf’s bulging belly as the text recounts that he “rescued Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother” (who emerge unscathed with the pull of a tab). One of the main disappointments of this shortened (but still text-heavy) version is that it skips the “Grandma, what big eyes you have!” routine. The publisher recommends an age range of “0-36 months,” which is consistent with the format but not with the audience’s developmental readiness. Companion title Pinocchio, with illustrations by Tiago Americo, is similarly awkward and unsuitable.

Skip. (Novelty board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-7338-5625-3

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Auzou Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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