An enjoyable way to build pre-K literacy and numeracy skills. (Novelty. 2-5)


At the Number Circus, learning is fun.

Welcome to the Number Circus, where every numeral has a fun and exciting role: 2 is a clown, 6 is an acrobat, and 8 is an animal trainer. On each page of this fanciful and fairly sturdy lift-the-flap book, one simple, cleanly written line of text introduces readers to an anthropomorphized numeral participating in a circus performance. On the bottom or the top of each spread is a series of flaps that have questions on them that guide the reader through literacy and numeracy exercises that are both entertaining and developmentally appropriate. These include counting objects (“How many ribbons is this dancer twirling?”), identifying objects and numerical symbols (is 6 or 4 “at the bottom of the pyramid?”), and understanding relational concepts such as “fewer” and “taller.” The illustrations are busy without feeling crowded, and the palette is soft and inviting. The text—which is mostly questions—is clear and direct, making it easy for children to understand what is being asked of them and to find the answers. It should be noted that this is not a traditional storybook and, until children become familiar with the concepts inside, requires more extensive adult participation than a narrative or nonfiction book might.

An enjoyable way to build pre-K literacy and numeracy skills. (Novelty. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7828-5765-5

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.


Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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The history of music is a big topic, and more-nuanced explanation is needed than the format allows.


This ambitious board book aims to promote an eclectic appreciation for music of all kinds.

Music, from drumming to computer-generated sound, is introduced as a linear historical sequence with two pages devoted to each of 11 styles, including medieval European, orchestral, blues, and more. Most of the musicians are portrayed as children, many with darker skin tones and with hairstyles and garb commonly associated with each type of music. Radford works in a retro cartoon mode, varying his presentation slightly with each new musical style but including a dancing dachshund on almost every spread, presumably to enhance child appeal. Unfortunately, the book just can’t succeed in reducing such a wide range of musical styles to toddler-appropriate language. The first two spreads read: “We start with clapping, tapping, and drums. // Lutes, flutes, and words are what we become.” The accompanying illustrations show, respectively, half-naked drummers and European court figures reading, writing, and playing a flute. Both spreads feature both brown-skinned and pale-skinned figures. At first reading this seems innocent enough, but the implication that clapping and drumming are somehow less civilized or sophisticated than a European style is reinforced in Stosuy’s glossary of music terms. He describes “Prehistoric Music” as “rhythmic music [made] with rocks, sticks, bones, and…voices,” while “Renaissance Music” is defined as “multiple melodies played at the same time.”

The history of music is a big topic, and more-nuanced explanation is needed than the format allows. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0941-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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