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An appealing primer on mindfulness for the youngest set.

Two adorable pups have much to teach, if we listen.

Fluffy, white Hucky and squat little nugget Buzz are best friends who spend their days filled with contemplative, deliberate actions in order to be more present. Fourteen bolded suggestions throughout the book (“Be Thankful,” “Show Love,” “Talk to Someone”) gently walk readers through the basics of mindfulness. On a page labeled “Be Happy,” for instance, we’re told that the canines “love to run in the park and feel the grass under their paws.” On another spread, readers learn that Hucky and Buzz also like to breathe deeply. We see each doggo lying on the grass with a paw on their stomach, feeling the slow rise and fall of their breath. The canines encourage readers to notice what is happening around them and listen to their emotions. They also cheer readers on; a double-page spread shows the two friends intrepidly crossing a rope bridge (“With self-confidence, you can do amazing things!”). Questions posed to readers offer an extra layer of engagement (“What do you like to do?” “What are you thankful for?” “What are some of the ways you keep busy?”). Dodd’s signature illustrations, outlined in thick black lines, are set against simple, uncluttered backdrops and bring the pups to vivid, endearing life. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An appealing primer on mindfulness for the youngest set. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2976-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A timely message in the wrong format.

This book delivers a message on the power of collective action.

As the book opens, a child looks at a lone star shining in the sky: “One star shines as distant light.” After the turn of the page, the child now sees what looks like the Milky Way: “And when stars shine together, they make our galaxy.” The book goes on to give a number of similar examples to reinforce the message of the power that comes from working together, ending with: “One of us can speak up for justice / And when we speak up together we create a world of possibility.” In the current atmosphere of strife and discord that divides our country, this is certainly a welcome message. Perhaps, though, the board-book set is not the right audience. As a picture book aimed at a slightly older group with an information page at the end explaining some of the illustrations, it might work well. As it is, however, some of the visual references will merely puzzle a toddler—and some adults. For example, a group of angry-looking people raising their fists and singing together may not look like “harmony” to a toddler—unless they know about the New Zealand haka. There is an unexplained frog motif that runs through the book that may also mystify readers. Nagara’s brilliant illustrations portray people of many ethnic backgrounds.

A timely message in the wrong format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64421-084-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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