HAT ON, HAT OFF

A seemingly simple story is greatly enhanced by nuanced, toddler-friendly details.

What parent or caregiver hasn’t played the game of putting on and taking off a piece of clothing with a baby?

Heras and Benoit cleverly take that experience and knit it into a story with a cute brown-skinned toddler getting ready to go outside with a pigtailed older sibling’s help with shoes and jacket sleeves. Sippy cup, pail and shovel, potty stop, and favorite stuffed animal are all required as well, but with each step the child takes one hat off and then puts another back on. The tot cycles through a hat with a bear’s face and ears, a striped hat with a pom-pom, a penguin hat with tassels, a green, knobbly hat with frog’s eyes, before returning to the bear hat—which ends up in a pile of leaves as soon as the children finally get outside. Even Bunny wears a hat (with carrots on it, of course). “Time to go out! / Need a hat. // Hats in basket / Red hat, green hat, striped hat / Which hat?” The staccato phrases are extended by the charming watercolor-and-digital illustrations that bleed off the page, creating an intimate, up-close effect. Soft colors and background patterns of knitted yarn (which only adults will notice) add a cozy feeling to the text pages. Heavyweight paper and rounded corners will help little hands to turn the pages easily.

A seemingly simple story is greatly enhanced by nuanced, toddler-friendly details. (Picture book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-927485-34-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

FAMILIES BELONG

A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

I LOVE YOU MORE, BABYSAUR

From the Punderland series

Not a great choice for the youngest dinosaur lovers.

A board-book ode to parental love as old as the dinosaurs.

A line of text on the left of each spread reads like a dinosaur-themed valentine that a third grader might choose, with punishingly punny wordplay that incorporates dinosaur-related words. On the facing page a dinosaur pair—a baby and an adult—gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes against whimsical, pastel-hued prehistoric-ish backgrounds. In smaller print, in all caps, at the bottom of the left page is the scientific name for the dinosaur referenced by the text and picture followed by a helpful phonetic pronunciation guide. White-outlined footprints appear next to their names, though the white is sometimes difficult to see against the pastel pages. Ten of the best-known dinosaurs are included. Twisting the dinosaur names to fit the loving sentiments succeeds some of the time but more often results in tortured text, well beyond the understanding of the board book audience. The line accompanying two hugging velociraptors, for instance, is just confusing: “Wrap-TOR arms around me, / with you I’ll always stay.” Others are just plain clumsy: “I-wanna-GUANODON you kisses, / I truly just adore you.” Very young children, even those fascinated by dinosaurs, will not get it. Older dinosaur fans will be put off by the babyish format.

Not a great choice for the youngest dinosaur lovers. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2295-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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