A basic conversation starter that may have a place in the book barns of infant and toddler classrooms.



Ten pages, most with just one clearly labeled image and a tactile surprise, make this French import a suitable addition to the crowded farm field for the very youngest babies.

A hen and a slightly fuzzy chick share the opening double-page spread with a rooster. On subsequent pages, stylized illustrations of a cow, a tractor, a dog, and a horse are easily identified by even very young children, but they may be disappointed at the subtlety of their touch-and-feel elements. The “wheat field,” with raised gold leaves against a yellow background, is challenging both tactilely and as vocabulary. Almost identical “farmers” sport the same brown boots and green coveralls. One has brown skin and short black hair and wears a sun hat, and the other has pale skin and long, red hair that is tied with a scarf, cuing them as male and female, respectively. Feminists might wonder why his tool is active (a shiny rake) while hers is passive (a small, shiny pail). The most successful tactile elements are the pig, whose mud is genuinely sticky, and the sheep’s white fleece. All the people and animals have the same eyes—a white circle with inset black semicircle—positioned so they seem to be looking across the page to their neighbors. Information that older children might look for about noises, habitats, or farm life will not be found here.

A basic conversation starter that may have a place in the book barns of infant and toddler classrooms. (Board book. 3-18 mos.)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 979-1-02760-369-5

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.


The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity


When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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