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From the My First Sound series

In the age of YouTube and downloadable music, a holiday board book with recordings is probably not an essential purchase,...

Six of the most recognizable songs from Tchaikovsky’s ballet receive brief board-book treatment.

The prominently boldfaced title of each dance is followed by a brief suggestion of what to listen for or find in the illustration. Toddlers will easily locate and press the button that plays 13 to 16 seconds of the opening bars of each song. There is no real attempt to place the whimsical tunes in context or to follow a storyline; instead, each spread is illustrated with dancing cartoon animals dressed in brightly colored, vaguely ethnic costumes. For example, for the “Russian Dance,” three gray foxes wear Cossack-type hats and embroidered jackets. Two pandas wearing Mandarin suit jackets dance around a teapot to illustrate the “Chinese Dance.” Most readers, whether toddlers or adults, will wonder what’s going on in the “Dance of the Mirlitons”; the animals “performing” it are wearing generic Western play clothes. No matter; the real point of this book is the music, which comes through clearly regardless of how the book is handled. A power supply installed in the last, extra-thick page has an “on/off” switch hidden under a flap. Instructions in tiny print explain how to replace the three button cell batteries.

In the age of YouTube and downloadable music, a holiday board book with recordings is probably not an essential purchase, but this is a well-executed alternative for caregivers wanting to incorporate music with reading time. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-26720-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Leave the hopping to Peter Cottontail and sing the original song instead.

An Easter-themed board-book parody of the traditional nursery rhyme.

Unfortunately, this effort is just as sugary and uninspired as The Itsy Bitsy Snowman, offered by the same pair in 2015. A cheerful white bunny hops through a pastel world to distribute candy and treats for Easter but spills his baskets. A hedgehog, fox, mouse, and various birds come to the bunny’s rescue, retrieving the candy, helping to devise a distribution plan, and hiding the eggs. Then magically, they all fly off in a hot air balloon as the little animals in the village emerge to find the treats. Without any apparent purpose, the type changes color to highlight some words. For very young children every word is new, so highlighting “tiny tail” or “friends” makes no sense. Although the text is meant to be sung, the words don't quite fit the rhythm of the original song. Moreover, there are not clear motions to accompany the text; without the fingerplay movements, this book has none of the satisfying verve of the traditional version.

Leave the hopping to Peter Cottontail and sing the original song instead. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5621-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A swell read for the lighthearted. (Board book. 1-3)

The bunnies that inhabit Boynton’s colorful world put on a musical show for the other animals.

The rabbits have taken over the theater. They dance and sing, bragging about their long ears and twitchy noses for the pigs and chickens in the audience. The rhythmic chorus—“We are ten terrific rabbits and we like to dance and sing. / Ten terrific rabbits. We can do almost anything”—is mighty infectious. The author’s trademark wit and humor are on full display as the other animals dress up like bunnies and join the massive grand finale. The barnyard cast forms a musical troupe that amuses and delights. Adults will appreciate the clever sight gags, and small children will appreciate the tasteful boasting and empowering jingle. While it’s not as complete a vehicle for inculcating emergent language skills as many of Boynton’s other books, there’s no denying it’s got verve.

A swell read for the lighthearted. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8060-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

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