A playful approach to teaching kids the alphabet.


Twenty-six Alphababies prepare for bedtime.

Putting A, B, C, and 23 other little ones to bed for the night is a daunting task. The bespectacled Alpha Mom needs a megaphone to call the kids to attention: “TIME FOR BED!” From there, in a style reminiscent of Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault’s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (1989), illustrated by Lois Ehlert, each child romps, rolls, and races to bed. Despite lights out, the kids have an “alpha pillow fight!” after which Mommy and Daddy finally get them to sleep with a kiss and one last tuck into bed. This spirited family is full of personality, each child with a different stuffed animal and pajama set and a unique journey to bedtime. The illustrations capture the bustle of a house bursting with children, from the chaos of the dinner table and children slipping on carpets and overturning houseplants in their haste to a series of bathtubs full of activity. A particularly effective string of illustrations shows the progression of lights out, from the line of light from a cracked bedroom door through the pillow fight and right into the appearance of two perturbed parents. The rhyming text bounces along, an easy read-aloud, with rich vocabulary like impish, jazzy, and scramble making for a fun, silly, relatable read with detailed, appealing illustrations. The Alphababies are diverse in skin tone, their mother is brown-skinned, and their father is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A playful approach to teaching kids the alphabet. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-399-16841-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...


The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.


You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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