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From the You See, I See series

It’s docile and harmless, but there are already better barnyard-themed books available to choose.

In rhyming verse, explore a farm alongside an enthusiastic toddler.

This tame board book features a toddler and their (extremely youthful) mother admiring scarecrows, playing with ducklings, and spotting various animals and machinery about the farmyard. Books about a day on the farm are an oft-repeated theme for the board-book crew, and there’s no new ground broken here. Digitally rendered, the loose-lined humans and animals have a breezy, caricaturelike style, but they aren’t imbued with much charm. Stick-figure animals populate the backgrounds, and even animals like baby lambs that should be objectively adorable instead resemble shapeless scribbles. While there are scattered perky pages with contrast and color—a page of bright red apples opposite another of golden honey—a vanilla palette of listless, desaturated colors daubed in patches against stark white pages dominates, making this one bland barnyard. Its narrative has an equally dull sound. Ho-hum rhyming reports what mom and baby spot in an overly singsong rhythm that doesn’t flow effortlessly when read aloud: “You see corn in a row / I see a big scarecrow.” Mom and toddler both present white.

It’s docile and harmless, but there are already better barnyard-themed books available to choose. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1447-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to.

This simplified version of Diesen and Hanna’s The Pout-Pout Fish (2008) is appropriate for babies and toddlers.

Brief, rhyming text tells the story of a sullen fish cheered up with a kiss. A little pink sea creature pokes his head out of a hole in the sea bottom to give the gloomy fish some advice: “Smile, Mr. Fish! / You look so down // With your glum-glum face / And your pout-pout frown.” He explains that there’s no reason to be worried, scared, sad or mad and concludes: “How about a smooch? / And a cheer-up wish? // Now you look happy: / What a smile, Mr. Fish!” Simple and sweet, this tale offers the lesson that sometimes, all that’s needed for a turnaround in mood is some cheer and encouragement to change our perspective. The clean, uncluttered illustrations are kept simple, except for the pout-pout fish’s features, which are delightfully expressive. Little ones will easily recognize and likely try to copy the sad, scared and angry looks that cross the fish’s face.

An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-37084-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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