FIVE LITTLE PUMPKINS ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT

Just sing the song; this sanitized variant is an additional purchase at best.

An unscary twist on the traditional Halloween song for first-time trick-or-treaters, illustrated with Magsamen’s signature simulated stitching designs.

There are no witches in the air in this book; the wind does not blow out the light. Instead the verse starts with “pumpkins giggling all day long,” which rhymes with “Let’s sing a song.” Continuing in this sweet mode, the second pumpkin says, “We shine so bright!” and the third one agrees, “Yes, we’re a beautiful sight.” On the fourth spread the rhythm breaks down. That pumpkin says, “We’re a little bit spooky and kooky too.” The final line stretches to rhyme: “We spread a lot of love, that’s what we do!” This revision misses the point of the original—to help young children feel brave as they learn about the mildly scary tradition of Halloween. Counting down, inherent in the original, is also eliminated in this version, though one could count the stars, smiling spiders, bats, and even hearts that decorate the pages. The cover, first page, and last page show five smiling pumpkins stacked willy-nilly. The three middle spreads show just one pumpkin each, with the fourth pumpkin rather arbitrarily sporting a witch’s hat.

Just sing the song; this sanitized variant is an additional purchase at best. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-30578-4

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

FAMILIES BELONG

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. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

THE ABCS OF LOVE

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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