Light, acceptably silly fare for preschool fans of hockey and vampires.

Vlad’s search for relief from boredom has him signing up for ice hockey.

With his batwing cape, gray pallor, and pointy ears, nose, and teeth (not to mention the pronounced widow’s peak), Vlad looks comically menacing in the Count Dracula style. Hearing a group of children planning to “pound,” “crush,” and “destroy” their opponents is what first attracts Vlad to the idea, after he ventures from his mist-shrouded castle to the local community center. Vlad (with the “best hockey equipment that treasure plundered from ancient gravesites could buy”) falls in love with the sport, watches hockey videos, dreams of playing in the Olympics for Team Transylvania, and works to learn how to skate, pass, and shoot. People—like the salesperson at the hockey store—seem to react with some trepidation around Vlad, but his kid teammates (never named but diverse in racial presentation and including at least one who presents as a girl) are supportive and unperturbed, and a teammate’s mom helps him with his skates before practice. Vignettes of game play show Vlad in an enforcer role, elbowing his opponent in the head and shouting from the penalty box as an opposing player trips one of Vlad’s teammates. Though his team loses 57-0, it’s clear that Vlad has “come to love hockey even more than he loved chasing after terrified mortals.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.8% of actual size.)

Light, acceptably silly fare for preschool fans of hockey and vampires. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1451-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020


Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021



Whether spoken by a dinosaur or a human, this parental message clearly radiates “I’ve loved you from the start.”

The cover’s glowing golden stars are but a small hint of the parent-child love inside.

In this companion book to the creators’ I Love You, My Little Unicorn (2022), a world full of digitally created dinosaurs illustrated in eye-catching colors dominates the pages. From the start, it’s clear that dinosaur parents have the same hopes and dreams for their offspring that human parents do. Readers don’t have to be dinosaur fans to smile when the parent-and-child dinosaur pairs playfully interact and share loving glances. Take special note of the ankylosauruses, whose tails arc to form a heart beneath a sky filled with heart-shaped clouds. The text in verse shares words of unconditional parental love and support and wisdom (“please remember all these things / that I want you to know”), appropriate for humans and dinos alike. “Roar with all your might!” “Spread your wings and fly.” “Use your voice, and ask for help.” There’s even a caveat that some “days will be dark / and other shades of gray.” But “there’s always brightness up ahead.” While the loving sentiments in the storytelling are clear, words are sometimes inverted to make the rhyme work, and the verse doesn’t always follow a consistent meter, but prereading will let the story shine during quiet snuggle times.

Whether spoken by a dinosaur or a human, this parental message clearly radiates “I’ve loved you from the start.” (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781728268361

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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