PET THE PETS

A LIFT-THE-FLAP BOOK

Although the book’s production quality leaves something to be desired, toddlers will adore helping out their new animal...

A collection of needy pets “all feel better” with a little help from their child reader friends.

It’s a rough day to be a pet! There’s an animal in mild crisis on each double-page spread. Poor kitty’s yarn is a total mess. But never fear! Youngsters are told exactly how to touch the page (“swirl the yarn to wind it”), and with a gratifying lift of the flap, the kitten is now snuggling a “nice and neat” ball of wool. A direct address from the pet praising readers for the assistance that “saved the day!” taps perfectly into a toddler’s deep desire to help. Among the instructions are a wide variety of ways to interact with pages, and while some, such as “open,” and “push,” will be familiar, others such as “pat” and “pinch” may build vocabulary. (These activities are mostly imaginary, as the physical interactions are confined to lifting flaps.) With their sketchily drawn bodies, the cartoonlike pets aren’t the cutest critters on the block, but it’s a genuine pleasure to watch pleading eyes and drooping bodies transform into perky, effervescent animals. If the concept is a sweet surprise, the book itself is not. The dots of its halftone printing are distractingly apparent, and several of the curved, not-particularly-substantial flaps catch and crease. Additionally, flaps and backgrounds share the same deeply saturated colors, making the flaps’ edges frustratingly difficult to find.

Although the book’s production quality leaves something to be desired, toddlers will adore helping out their new animal buddies. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0939-2

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

SMILE, POUT-POUT FISH

An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to.

This simplified version of Diesen and Hanna’s The Pout-Pout Fish (2008) is appropriate for babies and toddlers.

Brief, rhyming text tells the story of a sullen fish cheered up with a kiss. A little pink sea creature pokes his head out of a hole in the sea bottom to give the gloomy fish some advice: “Smile, Mr. Fish! / You look so down // With your glum-glum face / And your pout-pout frown.” He explains that there’s no reason to be worried, scared, sad or mad and concludes: “How about a smooch? / And a cheer-up wish? // Now you look happy: / What a smile, Mr. Fish!” Simple and sweet, this tale offers the lesson that sometimes, all that’s needed for a turnaround in mood is some cheer and encouragement to change our perspective. The clean, uncluttered illustrations are kept simple, except for the pout-pout fish’s features, which are delightfully expressive. Little ones will easily recognize and likely try to copy the sad, scared and angry looks that cross the fish’s face.

An upbeat early book on feelings with a simple storyline that little ones will respond to. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-37084-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

THE ITSY BITSY BUNNY

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. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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