Specific visuals ground this sweet celebration of simple pleasures.

MY HEART FILLS WITH HAPPINESS

Black-haired, brown-skinned children describe many sources of happiness in this board book, dedicated by the author to “former Indian Residential School students.”

“My heart fills with happiness when… / I see the face of someone I love // I smell bannock baking in the oven / I sing.” Author Smith, who is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish-Canadian, infuses her simple text with the occasional detail that bespeaks her First Nations heritage even as she celebrates universal pleasures. In addition to the smell of bannock, the narrator delights in dancing, listening to stories, and drumming. Cree-Métis artist Flett introduces visual details that further underscore this heritage, as in the moccasins, shawl, and braids worn by the dancing child and the drum and drumsticks wielded by the adult and toddler who lovingly make music together. (The “I drum” spread is repeated immediately, possibly to emphasize its importance, a detail that may disorient readers expecting a different scene.) Although the narrative voice is consistent, the children depicted change, which readers will note by hairstyle, dress, and relative age. The bannock bakes in a modern kitchen, and most of the clothing is likewise Western, emphasizing that these Native Americans are contemporary children. There is nothing in the text that specifically identifies them by nation, however.

Specific visuals ground this sweet celebration of simple pleasures. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0957-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Ideal for parents, whether going it alone or together, and for the babies and toddlers they love.

LEO LOVES DADDY

A fun-loving daddy’s dedication is apparent in this slice-of-life board book.

Leo, a brown-skinned boy with tight curls, full lips, and a broad nose, delights in playing with Daddy, who has equally clearly Black features. Leo wakes up to Daddy tickling his tummy. Then this superinvolved father fixes pancakes, dances, takes Leo on a bike ride, and tends to Leo’s scraped knee. Together they build with blocks, take a bath, and snuggle with a book before bed. Companion title Leo Loves Mommy follows a similar trajectory through the day. Leo builds a blanket fort with couch cushions, practices yoga, and paints with his mother, who also presents Black. After a bike ride, mommy’s lunch “is so flashy”: celery and carrot sticks turned into edible critters with fruit and nuts. The loving devotion of both parents is tangible and genuine, sweet but not cloying. Simple two-line sentences with unobtrusive rhymes across spreads provide descriptions of the activities and add vocabulary. Each spread illustrates one event against a clear solid color background, free of distracting decoration. Together they complete a full picture of a busy toddler’s day and his loving relationship with each parent.

Ideal for parents, whether going it alone or together, and for the babies and toddlers they love. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-241-2

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Hits just the right note for fans of the series and newcomers alike.

DOGGIE GETS SCARED

From the Leslie Patricelli Board Books series

A stuffed dog (and his baby) are afraid until they realize they have each other.

Patricelli’s instantly recognizable baby—White, still perpetually diaper clad, still with but one hair—from Bigger! Bigger! (2018) and many more is back with an adorable purple stuffed animal named Doggie. From swimming pools to strangers, Doggie gets pretty scared. The baby provides the pup lots of reassurance (including time with baby’s blankie) so that in the end, neither one is too afraid anymore. Adult readers will get a kick out of the fact that Doggie’s fears are actually the baby’s fears. What’s more, readers see the baby trying many of the same calm-down tactics on the stuffed canine that caregivers use on children. Both this device and the first-person narration are clever tools that will play well with little readers who likely share many of the same fears. The black-outlined images stand out against bold, saturated backgrounds, drawn with just enough detail to be interesting but not too busy. The simplicity of the illustrations doesn’t prevent Patricelli from conveying emotion, from the baby’s panic at possibly losing Doggie to the caregiver’s palpable relief at having found it. All of the characters present White save a few background figures. Patricelli’s rhyming Mad, Mad, MAD features the baby expressing anger and ultimately using techniques to work through it.

Hits just the right note for fans of the series and newcomers alike. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0379-0

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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