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DOG'S FIRST BABY

A playful and funny romp that will appeal to dog-owning tots.

A story of life with a baby from the family dog’s perspective.

The narration, meted out in one or two sentences per page, presents the inner monologue of a medium-sized white dog with black patches on its fur. The pooch investigates the newest family member, a newborn baby, and compares (“You howl, I howl”) and contrasts (“You don’t even have a tail!”) himself to this strange new addition to the family. Both of them sleep, eat, stretch, and walk on all fours, but the infant’s front paws aren’t like its back paws, the dog notes, and it  doesn’t have a tail or quite smell like a canine. A grown-up with blue eyes and wavy, shoulder-length blue-black hair only intervenes when the baby tries to mount the dog like a horse. The black-eyed baby and the caregiver have medium-brown skin and stylistic pink circles on their cheeks. Nelson’s sophisticated mixed-media collage uses a distinctive palette of mustards, royal blues, and deep greens with hot pink and red accents. The dog’s confusion about this new arrival seems to last several months as the child grows from a swaddled newborn to a crawling tyke playing hide-and-seek. Despite the word baby appearing in the title, the exercise of comparing and contrasting canines and infants will make more sense to toddlers.

A playful and funny romp that will appeal to dog-owning tots. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68369-279-9

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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FAMILIES BELONG

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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THE ITSY BITSY BUNNY

Leave the hopping to Peter Cottontail and sing the original song instead.

An Easter-themed board-book parody of the traditional nursery rhyme.

Unfortunately, this effort is just as sugary and uninspired as The Itsy Bitsy Snowman, offered by the same pair in 2015. A cheerful white bunny hops through a pastel world to distribute candy and treats for Easter but spills his baskets. A hedgehog, fox, mouse, and various birds come to the bunny’s rescue, retrieving the candy, helping to devise a distribution plan, and hiding the eggs. Then magically, they all fly off in a hot air balloon as the little animals in the village emerge to find the treats. Without any apparent purpose, the type changes color to highlight some words. For very young children every word is new, so highlighting “tiny tail” or “friends” makes no sense. Although the text is meant to be sung, the words don't quite fit the rhythm of the original song. Moreover, there are not clear motions to accompany the text; without the fingerplay movements, this book has none of the satisfying verve of the traditional version.

Leave the hopping to Peter Cottontail and sing the original song instead. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5621-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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