From the To Baby With Love series

This has a bit of the feel of an extended greeting card and should appeal to caregivers who want to maximize snuggles.

A love letter to animal babies.

Unseen animal parents (except for an adult giraffe and calf on the final pages) share what they love about their little ones in five rhyming couplets that are parceled out, one per double-page spread. The baby beasts cavort through the pages engaging in toddlerlike behavior—playing at the beach, splashing in puddles, and messing about with paints and brushes—in full-bleed scenes, likely created on a computer, that have a mock-homespun look. A penguin chick, a baby mouse, and an elephant calf, among others, are depicted in rounded forms embellished with faux stitch work, à la the artist Sandra Magsamen; the subtle, fabriclike patterns associate them with stuffed animals. Each page, including the cover, has a heart-shaped die-cut hole in ever decreasing sizes for a layered look, culminating on the final page with a sparkly, red heart. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Baby, the companion title in this aptly named series, To Baby, with Love, features the same cast of characters. The focus is on bedtime routines, and here, a star, appropriately enough, is the featured die-cut element.

This has a bit of the feel of an extended greeting card and should appeal to caregivers who want to maximize snuggles. (Board book. 6-18 mos.)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-6801-0517-9

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019


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

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