From the PJ Masks series

A pedantic marketing tool.

This board book based on Disney's PJ Masks series has only one purpose—to sell the TV show, app, toys, action figures, and even costumes based on the stereotypical characters.

Color-coded tabs with a headshot of each character let young fans quickly find their favorite's page. The “heroes” wear bright red, blue, and green, reminiscent of past popular superheroes, while the “villains” all wear darker colors. (Evil Romeo with a stripe of white in his black hair wears a brown lab coat; Luna Girl's outfit is a clingy black tunic and gray leggings; Night Ninja is blue/black all over, and his sidekicks are deep purple.) The heroes' mild exclamations (“Fluttering feathers!”) contrast with the villains' threats and name-calling. The heroes’ alter egos have talents similar to the animals they mimic. Connor becomes Catboy—quick, with acute hearing; Amaya swoops in as sharp-eyed Owlette; Greg becomes Gekko, who can change colors and has a superstrong grip. The villains' character flaws are spelled out: Romeo wants to rule the world, Luna Girl steals, and Night Ninja suffers from “overconfidence.” With the exception of Night Ninja, all characters are light-skinned. As with most battles between good and evil, the bad guys are actually more interesting, which might be why the creators spend so much time trying to convince their young readers that the villains won't win.

A pedantic marketing tool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8650-7

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


Though slight, this story has compensatory interactive components and characters that are time-tested kid-pleasers.

Poor Mark the shark can’t make any friends because all the other fish are frightened of his teeth.

When a crab pinches Mark’s tail, Mark gets angry and yells for all the fish to come out: “If you won’t be my friends, then you’ll be my dinner!” At this, a concerned octopus reaches out to Mark, accidentally tickling him and making him laugh. When the other fish hear the shark laugh, they realize he’s not actually scary after all, and suddenly, Mark has lots of fishy friends. Each double-page spread has a slider, allowing readers to move the shark’s teeth up and down by pulling a tab, making him cry, chomp, and laugh. Companion volume Dino Chomp, also featuring big biting teeth operated by sliders, tells the story of a T. Rex tricked out of his dinner. Both titles suffer from flimsy plots and generic art, depending on the interactivity of the moving mouths to draw kids in. Considering how satisfying it is to make those teeth go chomp, chomp, chomp, though, it may be enough.

Though slight, this story has compensatory interactive components and characters that are time-tested kid-pleasers. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0107-1

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015


From the My Magical Friends series

Interactive features carry this unicorn board book for toddlers.

Unicorns, rainbows, and interactive features come together in this durable board book.

A perky unicorn graces the cover, and the wheel integrated in the cover page can be used to rotate the sparkly, colorful lines on her rainbow mane, tail, and hooves for a pleasant striped effect. “A unicorn skipped out one day, / spreading magic on her way.” The rainbow unicorn wanders through her enchanted land, chasing away the clouds, stopping rain, and fixing torn fairy wings. Text is sparse, just one sentence-cum-couplet on each of the four double-page spreads, offering little substance for toddlers and not fully connecting with the illustrations. Cartoony illustrations are colorful yet simplistic, reminiscent of animated children’s television programming. Wafting clouds of stars represent unicorn magic, with birds, flowers, pale-skinned fairies, butterflies, and other insects scattered throughout. The final double-page spread shows a herd of unicorns of different colors frolicking together. Beyond the wheel on the cover, other interactive mechanisms include smooth pull-out tabs and sturdy sliders, which toddlers may easily enjoy while developing motor skills. The turn-push-pull-slide features of this book are developmentally perfect for the age, and they are the true adventure in this sturdy book. It’s a shame the text and illustrations fail to deliver in terms of edutainment and pale in comparison to the interactive features.

Interactive features carry this unicorn board book for toddlers. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3729-9

Page Count: 8

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019