Thanks to its gentle inconsistencies, this is a book that can expand children’s thought processes.

READ REVIEW

STACK THE CATS

Counting from one to 10 is the usual math activity in simple picture books, but this one takes on other mathematical operations, too.

The rhythmic text starts simply: “One cat sleeps. // Two cats play. // Three cats? / STACK! // Four cats teeter. / Five cats totter.” The pattern then changes. In a double-page spread, the text reads: “Six cats prefer / two stacks of three cats.” The picture clearly shows the two stacks of cats, an unnumbered ruler on the left, and a matching dotted line to the right to show the equal height of the stacks to allow for balancing. A similar page is shown for nine: “Nine cats agree / to three, three, and three.” Here numerals are shown for the only time, in a number sentence, but the measuring devices don’t appear. When it comes to 10, the author/illustrator sends some cats to hide and some to seek, encouraging discussion about subtraction, and then opens the question: “How will you stack the cats?” Here an adult could help an inquisitive child pursue the concepts of multiplication and division, hinted at earlier. The simple but elegant cats, mostly in shades of golden-yellow, orange, white, and black, with some marmalade tigers, are boldly set against aqua-blue and deep-orange backgrounds.

Thanks to its gentle inconsistencies, this is a book that can expand children’s thought processes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2349-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary.

MY FIRST BUSY BOOK

From the World of Eric Carle series

The latest addition to the World of Eric Carle is proof that the Wilder Award–winning picture-book creator knows what appeals to children.

This board book is both developmentally appropriate and aesthetically pleasing—perfect for toddlers. In a sturdy, oversize (10 1/2 inches square) format, Carle recycles iconic images from his vast canon to introduce shapes, colors, numbers, animals, and sounds. The flower on the cover is almost (but not quite) identical to the flower that grows from The Tiny Seed (1970). Seeing the animals throughout the pages is like recognizing old friends. But Carle and the book’s designer, Hannah Frece, put these familiar images to fresh uses to create a logical, accessible, and harmonious concept book. Although billed as a “busy book,” it is not hyperactive, using just five or six images per spread. From the mirror that lights up the sun on the cover to the touch-and-feel inserts on the page about animals to the single flap that hides a mouse from a cat, the tactile elements have been chosen with intention instead of just as gimmicks. On other pages, foils and textures are subtle, with many barely raised images that invite tracing.

A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5791-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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