The book’s heart is in the right place, but its execution serves neither subject nor audience even adequately.

IF I WERE A WHALE

Rhyming text introduces youngsters to a smattering of whales.

Unfortunately, it’s not particularly good rhyme, nor are the whales introduced with enough context to make the information meaningful to a toddler audience. “I might be a gray whale with barnacles on my chin / Or a sleek, slender fin whale. Think how fast I’d swim.” To these bloodless rhymes are paired equally anemic watercolor illustrations. The nature of whale coloration and their marine habitat combine for spreads that are dominated by grays and pale blues, the lack of contrast making for a singularly uncompelling visual experience. Weeds and other sea life add some mild pops of color, but they are so watery they don’t make much of an impression. In addition to the aforementioned gray and fin whales, Gill packs an impressive number of whale species in: minke, beluga, pilot, blue, beaked, orca, humpback, and—“Narwhals have tusks. Tusks might come in handy. / Right whales sail with their tails. Wouldn’t that be dandy?” Ouch.

The book’s heart is in the right place, but its execution serves neither subject nor audience even adequately. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63217-104-7

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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