The “I love you so much” bookshelf can never be too full.

“Love is in…each small sight and sound.”

Gentle prose from veteran children’s author Jones details the many everyday moments full of love: “through summer, winter, / fall, and spring.” Written in the first person, the reassurances of love in all the little things follow a nursery rhyme–like rhythm expertly crafted to comfort little ones. There are verses devoted to smiles, hugs, bubble baths, and bedtime kisses. Spot art and full-page spreads follow a slightly anthropomorphized, giant teddy of a bear and a towheaded, light-skinned human child. The bear appears to be the child’s caretaker, and the two watch fireworks, read bedtime stories, dance, tell jokes, have tea parties and baths, and so on. The sketchy visuals err on the side of oversimplified. A scene where the two gaze at each other while the text refers to “quiet, love-filled, gentle smiles” that “mean more than words can say” leaves the characters looking more blank than loving. While nothing in the prose or the nameless characters offers anything particularly grand or memorable, this offering will make a serviceable script for real-life caretakers reading aloud to sleepy listeners; as the book makes abundantly clear—“love is in the little things,” after all.

The “I love you so much” bookshelf can never be too full. (Picture book. 1-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781664300415

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


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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