More than the tabs, it’s the atypical vocabulary and quirky illustrations that set this one apart from ordinary alphabet...

READ REVIEW

A TO Z MENAGERIE

A picture dictionary with pullout tabs that emphasize each letter.

Ultman’s distinct illustrations lead the way through this alphabet board book. Each page features a different letter-shaped cutout that fills in when readers pull the tab located in the margin. The letter “K” becomes a K-shaped brown “koala,” for example. An introductory page invites readers to “look & touch,” a kind invitation even though the book is self-explanatory. While the tabs feature the usual alphabet suspects—like “X is for xylophone”—the rest of the featured vocabulary is very rich, providing important exposure to new words for a young reader. Examples of these words include “axolotl,” “echidna,” and “xyris” (a type of flower), and the illustrations provide enough context for readers’ understanding. The delicate line drawings feature pastel pinks and greens with bold blues and yellows. There are some adorable touches when the lettered items are doubled up, like the bear wearing a beret, the cat wearing a Peter Pan collar, and the horse wearing high-tops. Most items resemble their familiar form with some outlying quirks, such as a blue squirrel and an armless mermaid. The people featured in the book are shown to be paper white, pastel pink, or warm brown.

More than the tabs, it’s the atypical vocabulary and quirky illustrations that set this one apart from ordinary alphabet books. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7711-3

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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More information than toddlers will sit still for; not enough for preschoolers who are outgrowing board books.

MY BODY

From the Hello World! series

An introduction to the body for the youngest readers.

It’s an endlessly fascinating topic, but here it is explained in wordy and needlessly exclamatory detail. On the opening spread three children play: One flies a kite, another plays hopscotch, and a third hangs upside down from a branch while the text explains that “your body can do so many things!” Basic facts about each body part are explained on subsequent spreads—more or less. A spread devoted to the belly button gives no hint to its original purpose. A busy park scene with all the characters and summary text that emphasizes the importance of “Lots of sleep, good food, and plenty of exercise” ends this compendium. McDonald’s attempts to be inclusive don’t quite succeed. A brown-skinned boy playing wheelchair basketball is used to explain arm joints, and there are several other children of color in the book. But on the page about hearing, the brown-skinned tot’s prominent ears and his placement in a tree make him look more like a monkey than a child—an unfortunate association. Many spreads include a question that relates to the topic but could also prove distracting. An additional fact on each spread set in a smaller font is clearly for older children or grown-ups, not toddlers.

More information than toddlers will sit still for; not enough for preschoolers who are outgrowing board books. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6636-8

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Sweet idea, but these cupcakes are missing some key ingredients.

STIR CRACK WHISK BAKE

A LITTLE BOOK ABOUT LITTLE CAKES

America’s Test Kitchen invites young children to bake pretend cupcakes.

Smiling bowls, cups, and spoons guide would-be cooks through the basic steps of baking. The instructions start out clearly: “First, we gather the ingredients.” Then pretend takes over. Unfortunately, the applike instruction to “Use your finger to drag each one to the counter” makes no sense, as the ingredients don’t actually move, and unlike Hervé Tullet’s books, the page turn does not work the appropriate magic. Nor can the spilled flour on the next page be brushed off. Similarly, swiping a finger around the edge of a bowl will not mix batter, tapping pictures of eggs will not crack them, and bowls of dry and wet ingredients cannot be combined just by shaking them. Finally, after many pretend steps, the child can count down with the timer until the cupcakes are done. On the next spread they are asked to blow on the cakes to cool them enough to frost. Then a bowl of frosting magically arrives, and the child is invited to “dip your fingers in the frosting” to frost each cake. Yes, this is imaginary play. But simple, age-appropriate instructions—measure, mix, pour, bake, frost, sprinkle, enjoy—accompanied by clear illustrations would more effectively entice toddlers into the kitchen than this. Counterintuitively, there is no simple recipe with tips on baking with tots for caregivers.

Sweet idea, but these cupcakes are missing some key ingredients. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7773-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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