Too much trick; not enough treat.

PEEK-A-BOOOO!

From the Heart-Felt series

Magsamen adds assurances of unconditional love to the Halloween section of the board-book shelf.

Echoing the message of her I Love You, Little Pumpkin (2017), Magsamen employs many of the same tricks—flaps to lift, costumes to guess at, and a mirror. Here the mirror is partially hidden behind a felt jack-o-lantern–shaped flap on the front cover. Inside, the mirror is at the center of each right-hand page with a monkey, bunny, bumblebee, or astronaut costume drawn around it. Presumably, the child can “try on” each costume by looking in the mirror. However, the drawings are too abstract and become just so much visual noise; most young children will just focus on their own reflections. The pumpkin from the cover is visible on the left side of each spread, decorated with a prominent element of the featured costume—monkey or bunny ears, bumblebee wings, the astronaut’s helmet. Again, it’s far too abstract for children not yet out of the concrete-operations stage and not yet familiar with Halloween traditions. The final spread assures readers, “whatever you decide to be, you’ll always be amazing to me.” All this is illustrated with simply colored illustrations with “stitched” outlines meant to look like felt toys.

Too much trick; not enough treat. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-92798-7

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

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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Cute and sprightly but not a standout.

MOO, BAA, FA LA LA LA LA!

Deck the stalls?

A bevy of barnyard animals, a cat, and some dogs get fully into the Christmas spirit by sprucing up the farm with colorful decorations, including holly berries and sparkling baubles. They have a great time and sing while going about their merry chores in a manner somewhat in keeping with the rhythm of the classic tune “Deck the Halls.” (In fact, a flock of sheep are shown holding song sheets for it.) As might be expected with these particular celebrants, some of the familiar lyrics are altered just a bit; for instance, “boughs of holly” is “translated” as “cows and holly.” Adult readers expecting the rhythm here to work exactly as it does in the original will be disappointed, because it doesn’t—it’s clunky. This is merely a brief, lightweight spoof of the familiar ditty, so it’s recommended that grown-ups read rather than sing this—except for that final line!—to very young targeted audiences, who may be unfamiliar with the actual song anyway. Some fun is still to be had in the illustrations, however. The spirited, wittily expressive animal characters are depicted having a fine time romping about and producing a variety of onomatopoeic sounds throughout. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Cute and sprightly but not a standout. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66591-435-2

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Boynton Bookworks

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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