Little fingers will enjoy making this book dance, and their bodies may not be far behind.

DANCE

Using his signature supersturdy pull-tabs to animate the scenes, Van Fleet concocts a crowd pleaser about a baby chick learning to dance.

At the dance hall, a newly hatched chick, dubbed “Chickie Baby,” is taught to shake by hippopotamuses, to hop by bunnies, and more. The rhyming text is playfully repetitive and rhythmic, employing some clever wordplay: “Cool, Chickie Baby, now you’re great and gettin’ greater! / Now swing both your arms and do the Gator Mashed Potater!” Here an alligator teaches Chickie Baby a fist-pumping arm motion (not actually the 1960s mashed potato dance), activated by the pull-tab on the right of the page. There are times when the text’s phrases miss the meter and the refrain after Chickie Baby learns a step (“You can dance!”) doesn’t quite flow. The final double-page spread shows Chickie Baby showing off all of his moves, and his friends offer a curtain call in the form of a gatefold pop-up. But the star here, for any toddler or preschooler, will be the extra-large pull-tabs. From the “Busy Beaver Bop” to the “Crazy Piggy Tap,” these tabs demand to be pulled repeatedly—and they can take it. A thick, clear piece of plastic acts as protection for the parts, making this series the sturdiest movable books available.

Little fingers will enjoy making this book dance, and their bodies may not be far behind. (Pop-up board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8707-8

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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