Adorable illustrations and an unusually engaging approach to shape recognition.


From the Beginning Baby series

The friendly animals of the Shape School invite readers to find and explore 10 different shapes.

This board book is more than a simple shape seek-and-find or identification book. It goes one step further to engage little readers in fine motor practice. For example, Elijah the elephant encourages readers to trace all of the circle shapes on the page with a finger. On another, readers are asked to tap the three points on the triangles in the picture. Each page features a different shape, which is highlighted on a tab located on the outer edge of the book. Some double-page spreads include a lot of shapes, perhaps more than a toddler or preschooler would have the patience to interact with: more than 20 triangles and 40 hearts, for instance. That said, there is no counting challenge per se, and it does allow for readers to do as much or as little as they would like. Similarly, it includes some less-obvious shapes, like the cabinet with nine square cubbies that is also itself square, and there are two flamingos whose bodies form the shape of a heart. This helps stretch the challenge for slightly older readers. The illustrations are darling and certainly inviting. Riley the narwhal is irresistible in a red-and-white striped shirt and tiny red backpack. None of the animals are gendered with pronouns in the text.

Adorable illustrations and an unusually engaging approach to shape recognition. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7093-0

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary.


From the World of Eric Carle series

The latest addition to the World of Eric Carle is proof that the Wilder Award–winning picture-book creator knows what appeals to children.

This board book is both developmentally appropriate and aesthetically pleasing—perfect for toddlers. In a sturdy, oversize (10 1/2 inches square) format, Carle recycles iconic images from his vast canon to introduce shapes, colors, numbers, animals, and sounds. The flower on the cover is almost (but not quite) identical to the flower that grows from The Tiny Seed (1970). Seeing the animals throughout the pages is like recognizing old friends. But Carle and the book’s designer, Hannah Frece, put these familiar images to fresh uses to create a logical, accessible, and harmonious concept book. Although billed as a “busy book,” it is not hyperactive, using just five or six images per spread. From the mirror that lights up the sun on the cover to the touch-and-feel inserts on the page about animals to the single flap that hides a mouse from a cat, the tactile elements have been chosen with intention instead of just as gimmicks. On other pages, foils and textures are subtle, with many barely raised images that invite tracing.

A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5791-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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It’s all very obvious, but there’s no harm in harping on kindness.



An alphabet book featuring different ways to be kind.

This oversized board book takes a walk through the alphabet and hits on most of the obvious ways in which children can be kind to one another, themselves, and the planet. Berger’s simple text includes both small acts, like “Brightening someone’s day with a smile,” and larger ones, such as “Standing up for someone when no one else will.” The text is direct, without any poetry or flourish, so it reads a bit like an encyclopedia. The acts of kindness feel attainable for young readers, and Trukhan’s illustrations offer practical examples: One child gives up their spot in line for the slide; another makes room at the lunch table. Trukhan’s illustrations are reminiscent of Byron Barton’s, featuring bold, block colors and geometric foundations. The book is inclusive of people with many different skin and hair colors, and it also depicts one child with a cochlear implant and another who walks with forearm crutches. Trukhan’s companion title, Kindess Counts 123, with text by R.A. Strong, echoes both this title’s theme and its inclusivity. While none of the content in either book is particularly revelatory, it is still meaningful and nicely presented.

It’s all very obvious, but there’s no harm in harping on kindness. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-651-3

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Highlights Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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