HOP ALONG BOO, TIME FOR BED

A snooze.

A lullaby sends Belle and her stuffed bunny, Boo, off to sleep.

The book opens with the sentient toy Boo stargazing from a treehouse window while Belle, a white girl with a brown bob, sings a lullaby. She’s in pajamas and ready for bed herself. It becomes unclear whether the ensuing text is in her voice or an omniscient narrator’s as she and Boo make their way to dreamland though a variety of settings evoked by the rhyming verses. Succeeding double-page spreads show scenes of a diverse group of children parading off to bed, with Belle and Boo always present. Some settings in this British import show a mismatch between text and art (“cowboys way out on the prairie” are in a cactus-studded desert), while others disappointingly reinforce stereotypes: a scene about dancers seems to omit all boy characters except for a single blond, white boy at center stage while nine girls stand in the wings, and then tipis show up in a nighttime scene with the children reading around a campfire surrounded by tents of many sorts. There’s no call from the text for their inclusion nor any cultural specificity that suggests a Plains Indian presence or context, which problematically renders the structures playthings verging on fantastic props. Throughout, the rhyming text seems a bit drawn-out, and illustrations verge on the saccharine.

A snooze. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-40833-708-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

GOODNIGHT, NUMBERS

The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon.

This bedtime book offers simple rhymes, celebrates the numbers one through 10, and encourages the counting of objects.

Each double-page spread shows a different toddler-and-caregiver pair, with careful attention to different skin tones, hair types, genders, and eye shapes. The pastel palette and soft, rounded contours of people and things add to the sleepy litany of the poems, beginning with “Goodnight, one fork. / Goodnight, one spoon. / Goodnight, one bowl. / I’ll see you soon.” With each number comes a different part in a toddler’s evening routine, including dinner, putting away toys, bathtime, and a bedtime story. The white backgrounds of the pages help to emphasize the bold representations of the numbers in both written and numerical forms. Each spread gives multiple opportunities to practice counting to its particular number; for example, the page for “four” includes four bottles of shampoo and four inlaid dots on a stool—beyond the four objects mentioned in the accompanying rhyme. Each home’s décor, and the array and types of toys and accoutrements within, shows a decidedly upscale, Western milieu. This seems compatible with the patronizing author’s note to adults, which accuses “the media” of indoctrinating children with fear of math “in our country.” Regardless, this sweet treatment of numbers and counting may be good prophylaxis against math phobia.

The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

IN THE WIND

A gentle outing for children who are ready for stories of everyday life rather than just objects to name.

A brief rhyming board book for toddlers.

Spurr's earlier board books (In the Garden and At the Beach, both 2012; In the Woods, 2013) featured an adventuresome little boy. Her new slice-of-life story stars an equally joyful little girl who takes pleasure in flying a new kite while not venturing far off the walkway. Oliphant's expressive and light-filled watercolors clearly depict the child's emotions—eager excitement on the way to the park, delight at the kite's flight in the wind, shock when the kite breaks free, dejection, and finally relief and amazement. The rhymes work, though uneven syllable counts in some stanzas interrupt the smooth flow of the verse. The illustrations depict the child with her mass of windblown curls, brown skin, and pronounced facial features as African-American. Her guardian (presumably her mother) is also brown-skinned. It is refreshing to see an African-American family settled comfortably in a suburban setting with single-family homes and a park where the family dog does not need to be leashed.

A gentle outing for children who are ready for stories of everyday life rather than just objects to name. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56145-854-7

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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