In this simple and touching Christmas story, Little Owl meets a bright and shining star who invites the young owl to follow along in the sky. They meet the “traveling men,” the shepherds, and the angels, before Little Owl finds a sleeping baby in a stable. Little Owl’s gentle touch with his wing makes the baby smile, and that smile grows into smiles on the faces of all the other people and animals who crowd into the stable. The final spread shows the star in bright, glittery gold, symbolically filling the world with light, shown as splashes of brilliant color streaking across the dark sky. The first-person story is told in just a few poetic words, with the innocent young owl as narrator, and this device helps to effectively convey the wonder of the special event. The visually arresting art uses neon-bright shades against black backgrounds with pink hand-lettering for the text. The story is short and simple enough for toddlers and will make a wonderful introduction to the Christmas story for young listeners. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7636-2268-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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All aboard for a spooktacularly sleepy ride!


From the The Goodnight Train series

The goodnight train is back for a not-so-scary fourth installment.

The nighttime locomotive travels through an autumnal landscape that’s bursting with Halloween tropes. As in the previous stories, bed-shaped cars are hooked up for a train ride; here, three diverse children are dressed in their Halloween finest as a skeleton, a princess, and a bee. Fans of the series will find the usual perks of a solid rhyme scheme, additional words and sounds peppering the illustrations, and pages of yawning creatures signaling that it’s time for bed. Those unfamiliar with the series will also find the book amusing, but readers who really love Halloween—or spooky things like bats, ghosts, and black cats—will enjoy it the most. As with the other installments in this series, educators and librarians will find this useful for seasonal book displays and storytimes but will probably keep it out year-round because it checks many of the boxes that signal a solid addition to any board-book library. Die-cut circles of various sizes are sprinkled across the double-page spreads, giving caregivers a chance to test young readers’ predictive skills while providing small hints at what’s to come. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

All aboard for a spooktacularly sleepy ride! (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-3586-2607-7

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Fun format; bland text.


From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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