A good-enough choice for parents and teachers to use to get the youngest goblins excited about many adults’ favorite holiday...

PEEK-A BOO!

From the Peek-a series

Laden puts a Halloween spin on her successful wordplay board books, Peek-a-Who? (2000) and Peek-a-Zoo! (2014).

Following the same pattern as in the previous titles, a die-cut opening reveals part of a picture and a few visual clues so that toddlers can guess what the page turn might uncover. As with Peek-a-Zoo!, there are only so many words that rhyme with “boo.” Some of the choices this time around are quite a stretch, especially for the board-book set. “Brew,” “flew,” and “crew” are not exactly standard toddler language, so adult readers will need to be ready to help tots negotiate it. The picture of a pumpkin labelled “peek-a-goo” makes sense only for children older than this book’s audience, who know what will happen to the jack-o’-lantern when the festivities are over. Illustrations in Laden's signature gouache style with all the expected Halloween icons—fall leaves, skeletons, spiders, mice—provide a mild “eww” factor. The final page turn is no surprise—a Mylar mirror set where a ghost’s face might be. The concluding question—“Who are you?”—alludes to the tradition of costumes and trick-or-treat and could be helpful in familiarizing the youngest readers with it.

A good-enough choice for parents and teachers to use to get the youngest goblins excited about many adults’ favorite holiday while introducing sophisticated, though still one-syllable, vocabulary. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3396-6

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside.

EIGHT JOLLY REINDEER

Readers can count down eight of Santa's reindeer as they jump up and out of the scene. 

In each one of the mostly double-page spreads, one reindeer, from Dasher to Blitzen, plays a central role in a winter activity (sledding, ski jumping, ice skating—and soccer and yoga?) that launches the creature into the air. Glitter-speckled tabs, each with small portraits of a member of Santa's herd, appear at either the top or the right side of each page, which little fingers will enjoy flipping. In what looks to be pencil-and-watercolor cartoons, Rogers uses different facial expressions, as well as collars, bows or other accessories, to distinguish the reindeer from one another. Donner (not Donder) and Blitzen are squeezed together on the penultimate spread, likely to keep the page count down. The verse mostly scans, but the rhyme scheme has become the cliché of counting books: "Eight jolly reindeer / stretching up to heaven. / Up goes Dasher / and then there are... // Seven...." Santa, his iconic sleigh and the eight reindeer in flight make a dramatic and required appearance on the book's final double-page spread. 

As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-65145-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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