From the Touch and Explore series

Busy indeed! Board-book readers will tear this book up—but not in a good way.

Turn the textured tabs to follow a blue dinosaur from sunup to bedtime.

Each spread offers a four-line verse that describes the action of Dino and three more cartoon dinosaur pals. The verse doesn’t always trip off the tongue: “Run and chase. / Then eat some lunch. / Tasty leaves! / Crunch, chomp, munch!” Other, mostly predictable rhymes include “day” and “play”; “wash” and “splosh”; “fruit” and “cute”; and “bed” and “head.” Bold, bright colors are layered to create fanciful background scenery and illustrate Dino’s actions. Peach-colored mountains drip with sherbet-hued snow. Each spread includes a colored dot with the instruction: “Feel the tab and find the same pattern on the page.” Initially this seems straightforward. The first padded fabric tab is blue with bumpy teal spots, like Dino’s back. On the second spread, both the first and second tabs are visible, and each can be matched with a pattern on the page. But the second pattern is not included on the third spread, and the fish scales meant to match the shiny silver third tab are tiny—or are readers supposed to be looking at the similarly patterned droplets of water? Though the tabs are tactile, the matching elements to be found in the illustrations are not, so there is nothing to match by “feel.” Toddlers will just grab the glued-in tabs, destroying the book and creating potential choke hazards in the process.

Busy indeed! Board-book readers will tear this book up—but not in a good way. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-64568-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021


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

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