Sentimental and derivative.

MAMA LOVES HER LITTLE LLAMA

A baby llama queries other animals in search of mama.

A woolly cria asks a cow, a pig, a cat, and a horse the same question: “Are you my mama?” Each animal responds in the negative with a rhymed retort: “No, I’m a pig. That’s my gig!” The smiling baby llama always appears on recto with eyes closed so it’s beneath two plush llama ears securely attached to the top of the back cover. This gimmick is the only new feature in the overplayed baby-llama–and-mama genre, and only the very youngest listeners will be surprised when the cria finds its mama and she declares her love for the baby. The companion title, the slightly more engaging and original I Love You Little Monster! also embeds plush elements into the back cover, but this time it is monster horns. On each right-hand page, a different monster with the same green horns appears. The theme here is the hoary one of unconditional love, as the unseen first-person narrator proclaims that love will be bestowed even if the monster in question gets angry, jumps in mud puddles, or causes bathtub floods. Magsamen’s signature look of faux stitch-work and brightly colored lettering is at play in both the images and on key words in the text. Hearts are sprinkled throughout the sunny art.

Sentimental and derivative. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-62917-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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

THE ABCS OF LOVE

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. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver.

EEK! HALLOWEEN!

The farmyard's chickens experience Halloween.

A round, full moon shines in the sky, and the chickens of Boynton's barnyard are feeling “nervous.” Pumpkins shine “with flickering eyes,” witches and wizards wander the pastures, and one chicken has seen “a mouse of enormous size.” It’s Halloween night, and readers will delight as the chickens huddle together and try to figure out what's going on. All ends well, of course, and in Boynton's trademark silly style. (It’s really quite remarkable how her ranks of white, yellow-beaked chickens evoke rows of candy corn.) At this point parents and children know what they're in for when they pick up a book by the prolific author, and she doesn't disappoint here. The chickens are silly, the pigs are cute, and the coloring and illustrations evoke a warmth that little ones wary of Halloween will appreciate. For children leery of the ghouls and goblins lurking in the holiday's iconography, this is a perfect antidote, emphasizing all the fun Halloween has to offer.

An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-9300-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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