Fans should stick with the apps; others needn’t bother.

JINJA'S SURPRISE!

From the Sago Mini series

In a narrative spinoff of the Sago Mini app suite, five animal pals enlist the help of readers to keep their surprise-party preparations a secret from Jinja the cat.

Over the course of several double-page spreads, Jack the bunny makes snacks, Hugbot the robot puts together a party band, Robin (a bird) does “decoration duty,” etc., as Jinja almost spoils her surprise as she obviously walks in on each of these scenes across the recto. The text instructs readers to use fingers and hands to hide cupcakes, balloons, presents, and so on from the honoree. While the art is invitingly bright and jovial, some of the images may prove confusing to toddlers. Ice cream scoops are stacked on top of one another without cones, and Harvey the dog, who is “in charge of games,” seems to be engaged in some mysterious construction (turns out he was making a zip line), and is it is unclear what sort of critter purple Rosie is supposed to be (hamster? guinea pig?). Little hands may be hard-pressed to completely cover the images as instructed on the 8-inch-square pages. Tabs on the side of the book help readers jump to a scene with the desired character.

Fans should stick with the apps; others needn’t bother. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0323-5

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Sizzle Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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This holiday ditty misses too many beats.

THE ITSY BITSY PILGRIM

From the Itsy Bitsy series

The traditional story of the first Thanksgiving is set to the tune of “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and stars rodents instead of humans.

The titular itsy-bitsy Pilgrim, a mouse dressed in iconic Puritan garb, sails to “a home that’s new” with three other mice on the Mayflower. They build a house, shovel snow, and greet some “itsy bitsy new friends,” who are chipmunks dressed as Native Americans complete with feathered headbands, beaded necklaces, and leather clothing. While Rescek’s art is droll and lively, it is wildly idealized, and the Native Americans’ clothing does not reflect what is understood of Wampanoag attire. The companion title, The Itsy Bitsy Reindeer, presents equally buoyant scenes. The reindeer and several elves, who appear to be white children with pointed ears, help Santa (also white) prepare for his annual sleigh-ride delivery. In both books, would-be singers may struggle to fit all the words and syllables into the meter, and a couple of rhymes are extremely forced (“shop” and “job”?).

This holiday ditty misses too many beats. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6852-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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