A bit cringey, but who doesn’t love finger puppets? (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

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TWINKLE, TWINKLE, YOU'RE MY STAR

This heart-shaped book comes with a star-shaped finger puppet.

There exists a subgenre of children’s books so exceedingly gushy and effusive it seems clear the text was written for starry-eyed adults rather than for the children to whom they read the books. This die-cut, valentine-shaped board book is a case in point. For the most part, it reads like a mawkish love letter from caregiver to child, heaping on the hyperbole to a degree that feels almost unctuous. To be fair, of course, parenthood is one of the few human experiences so profound that those new to the role might find themselves in total agreement with the sentiments somewhat cloyingly expressed herein: “Twinkle, twinkle, little one; / your precious life has just begun. // You fill the world with hope and light, // my special child you shine so bright.” Perhaps it’s best that this book is intended for an audience too young to fully grasp its meaning; that sort of praise could lead to some seriously swelled heads. Fortunately, the highfalutin doggerel is undercut by the emergence of a smiling, yellow, star-shaped finger puppet from a hole in the center of the book; wagging this star at youngsters while reading aloud makes the experience just silly enough to counteract the treacle. The text ends on a down-to-earth note: “Twinkle, twinkle, you’re my star; // I love you just the way you are!” Bright colors and hearts abound.

A bit cringey, but who doesn’t love finger puppets? (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-24312-3

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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