While both titles utilize vibrant photos and easy-to-open flaps, First Numbers is the more successful offering of the two.

FIRST NUMBERS

From the My First Lift and Learn series

A straightforward, clear counting book for little ones.

On each page, the direct text asks readers how many of each object are pictured, starting with one cupcake and continuing up to 10 buttons. The exterior of a flap that takes up much of the page shows photographs of one cupcake, two kittens, three butterflies and so on. The inside of the flap reveals the object again, sometimes in a different configuration or color, along with a clear representation of the numeral. The dotted lines that show youngsters how to trace the written number with their fingers are nice features and give this title a longer shelf life. The die-cut handle at the top of the book is unnecessary, but it doesn’t interfere with the images on the internal pages. First Colors, a companion title in this series, explores colors using a nearly identical format. Readers are invited to name the color of an object on the outside of a flap and then peruse additional objects in this hue on the inside. While the photos are quite vivid and striking, there are a few missteps here and there. The “orange” starfish looks a little too brown, the yellow cordless phone is starting to look dated, and children still learning about the size and scale of things may be confused by a beetle that is nearly the size of a car tire. Health conscious parents may wonder about the inclusion of so many sugary foods (cupcakes, candy, chocolate and doughnuts).

While both titles utilize vibrant photos and easy-to-open flaps, First Numbers is the more successful offering of the two. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-630-9

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside.

EIGHT JOLLY REINDEER

Readers can count down eight of Santa's reindeer as they jump up and out of the scene. 

In each one of the mostly double-page spreads, one reindeer, from Dasher to Blitzen, plays a central role in a winter activity (sledding, ski jumping, ice skating—and soccer and yoga?) that launches the creature into the air. Glitter-speckled tabs, each with small portraits of a member of Santa's herd, appear at either the top or the right side of each page, which little fingers will enjoy flipping. In what looks to be pencil-and-watercolor cartoons, Rogers uses different facial expressions, as well as collars, bows or other accessories, to distinguish the reindeer from one another. Donner (not Donder) and Blitzen are squeezed together on the penultimate spread, likely to keep the page count down. The verse mostly scans, but the rhyme scheme has become the cliché of counting books: "Eight jolly reindeer / stretching up to heaven. / Up goes Dasher / and then there are... // Seven...." Santa, his iconic sleigh and the eight reindeer in flight make a dramatic and required appearance on the book's final double-page spread. 

As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-65145-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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