Sure to result in choruses of ooohs, coos, and mews.


A panorama of pets, with big tabs to pull and furry or textured patches to fondle.

Dozens of small pets crowd the ultrasturdy white pages or peer from behind heavy acetate windows. If not every single one comes with a well-anchored piece of synthetic fur or fuzz or can be made to peek out or waggle a fin by pulling a big, geared-for-toddlers tab, all—even the hermit crab and the sticky snails—are bright and cute as buttons. Except for mentioning that “small” potbellied pigs “get too big,” Van Fleet doesn’t address the practicalities (or ethics) of keeping as pets some of the less-domesticated birds, reptiles, and other creatures on display. In fact, the text is written for rhythm more than it is for literal meaning: “Gnaw pet, / Chew pet, / Peck pet, / Crunch! / Gulp pet, / Nibble pets—munch, munch, munch, munch, munch!” In this tableau, a chinchilla, a degu, a parrot, a tortoise, a goldfish, a mouse, and a guinea pig all nosh, the pull-tab wiggling the guinea pig’s head as it nibbles. All, from guinea pig and goldfish to veiled chameleon, ornate horned frog, and sun conure are identified in a grand pop-up assemblage at the end. The earthier underpinnings of the team’s similarly designed Color Dog (2015) may be absent, but the sheer diversity of the animal cast will delight diapered audiences.

Sure to result in choruses of ooohs, coos, and mews. (Informational novelty. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8247-0

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Sweet idea, but these cupcakes are missing some key ingredients.



America’s Test Kitchen invites young children to bake pretend cupcakes.

Smiling bowls, cups, and spoons guide would-be cooks through the basic steps of baking. The instructions start out clearly: “First, we gather the ingredients.” Then pretend takes over. Unfortunately, the applike instruction to “Use your finger to drag each one to the counter” makes no sense, as the ingredients don’t actually move, and unlike Hervé Tullet’s books, the page turn does not work the appropriate magic. Nor can the spilled flour on the next page be brushed off. Similarly, swiping a finger around the edge of a bowl will not mix batter, tapping pictures of eggs will not crack them, and bowls of dry and wet ingredients cannot be combined just by shaking them. Finally, after many pretend steps, the child can count down with the timer until the cupcakes are done. On the next spread they are asked to blow on the cakes to cool them enough to frost. Then a bowl of frosting magically arrives, and the child is invited to “dip your fingers in the frosting” to frost each cake. Yes, this is imaginary play. But simple, age-appropriate instructions—measure, mix, pour, bake, frost, sprinkle, enjoy—accompanied by clear illustrations would more effectively entice toddlers into the kitchen than this. Counterintuitively, there is no simple recipe with tips on baking with tots for caregivers.

Sweet idea, but these cupcakes are missing some key ingredients. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7773-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Attractive but disappointing.


From the Little Kids First Board Book series

National Geographic brings its gorgeous, accurate wildlife photography to toddlers.

One double-page spread is devoted to each of 10 animals (some may feel that calling chipmunks, frogs, and ducks “wild” is stretching it a bit). The animals hail from all over the map—from an elephant and a zebra to a black bear and a wolf. The sound each creature makes begins the text, followed by a sentence speculating what the animal might be communicating. Six of the spreads highlight an additional animal fact in a bright yellow circle. White thought bubbles on seven spreads that attempt to inject humor are less successful. For example, in response to the wolf’s howl, the wolf pups think, “Should we answer?” Similarly, on a different spread, the primary text reads, “Roar! Time for dinner, the mother tiger calls.” The tiger cub wonders in response, “What’s the catch of the day?” The typical board-book audience of babies and toddlers will not get the jokes, and preschoolers are ready for more-substantial books. The needless anthropomorphization detracts from what could be simple, useful nonfiction. The final spread reprises six of the animals in a guessing game to “Match the animals with the sounds they make.” Ocean, published simultaneously, is similarly formatted (and flawed), but all the creatures featured share the ocean habitat.

Attractive but disappointing. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3466-5

Page Count: 26

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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