Opposites are adequately covered, but while this ambitious board book aims high, it never quite soars

MY OPPOSITES BOOK

From the Early Birds Learning Series series , Vol. 3

Birds and opposites converge in this book for budding ornithologists.

Created digitally, the birds’ portraits are accurate and even elegant, but they never achieve the feel of a bird about to take wing. While a momma swallow swooping toward chicks or a close-up of robins in a nest stand out for their robust scenery and hints of motion, the majority of the double-page spreads feel as flat and posed as a museum diorama. As a concept book, it’s quite serviceable. While a few of the 10 pairings flop—its “FAST” falcon appears as static as its “SLOW” heron companion—most, such as a “FULL” feeder packed with seeds and feasting birds adjacent to a forlorn “EMPTY” feeder, are clear and comprehensible. Problematically, the brief preambles that introduce each spread are drably uninteresting, and nearly all are sentence fragments that are clunky when read aloud. On the final page, small labeled bird portraits, each with a scannable QR code, link readers to a variety of calls with a free app download. Avid birders might appreciate hearing these songs, though having them clustered at the end rather than integrated throughout the book requires fiddly page flips. Colorful tabs on the right margins labeling the opposites act as an index.

Opposites are adequately covered, but while this ambitious board book aims high, it never quite soars . (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943645-45-9

Page Count: 23

Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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

MY FIRST BUSY BOOK

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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While the ghoulies here are more cute than scary, “jump,” “quiver,” and “run” will probably get across the idea to even the...

HALLOWEEN ABC

An abecedary of spooky or autumnal delights for the littlest readers.

Each letter of the alphabet is highlighted on a single page, the upper- and lowercase letters appearing in the upper left-hand corner, while the object is named at the bottom or in the upper right. Ho keeps her illustrations simple and places them against plain, brightly colored backgrounds, keeping them accessible to those still learning about Halloween’s many icons. The almost-fluorescent orange cover is sure to attract attention, and the palette of black, purple, orange, yellow, and radioactive green enhances the Halloween mood. But while many of the chosen items will be expected—bats, ghost, haunted house, owl, skeleton, vampire, witch, zombie—others are rather odd choices. J is for “jump,” not jack-o’-lantern (“pumpkin” is illustrated with a jack-o’-lantern); K is for a mostly black “kitten” standing in a coffin; and N is for “nightmare,” which is virtually impossible to express visually for this age group without provoking said nightmare. Here, a lavender-skinned child (zombie?) in pajamas and nightcap has arms raised and mouth open wide in surprise—perhaps in response to the mummy across the gutter? The tough letters use “quiver,” spider-decorated “underpants” on a monster, and “extra treats,” the x underlined.

While the ghoulies here are more cute than scary, “jump,” “quiver,” and “run” will probably get across the idea to even the youngest listeners that Halloween can be scary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9527-9

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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