Babies and toddlers can't anticipate what they have not yet fully experienced, and this book will do little to build...


A bear family anticipates Christmas in this slightly oversized board book.

Overlapping, stocking-shaped pages create easy handholds for a toddler to turn the sturdy card stock nested in a box frame. Each stocking is decorated in busy patterns—red polka dots for Daddy Bear, red, white, and blue stripes and squares for Momma, green trees for Baby, etc. The rhyming verses describe an odd assortment of presents that each cheerful bear finds in its stocking—a hat for Daddy, a scarf for Momma, mittens for Bobby. It is hard to imagine that Bonnie Bear would actually exclaim “Perfect for my dolly!” when she finds a choking hazard (buttons) in her stocking. When Baby Bear finds a carrot, he is visibly disappointed. Then the whole family goes outside to make a snowman using the hat, scarf, mittens, buttons, and carrot. With no context or prior experience, young children won't understand the mystery of the odd gifts in the stockings. Toddlers will enjoy turning the pages but won't have patience for the rhyming verses or vague storyline.

Babies and toddlers can't anticipate what they have not yet fully experienced, and this book will do little to build excitement or even curiosity about Christmas; better just bundle up and build a snowman instead. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-79455-8

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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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. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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