An elegantly executed abecedary.

Learn about various animals and natural features that are part of our “wonderful world.”

Structured to follow the traditional “Aa” is for “acorn” pattern, this spiffy board book takes a trip around the natural world, from ABC favorites such as “butterfly” and “fish” to the lesser-seen “volcano” and then all the way out of our “universe.” Although the theme is overwhelming in its scope (the world after all, is a pretty big place), Hopgood does a commendable job of choosing engaging images. His most effective pages are sweeping landscapes, especially a red-tinged “desert” complete with towering saguaro cacti, an isolated “island” teeming with plants and animals, and a lush double-page “jungle” spread. That’s not to say the pictures of animals aren’t strong—there’s a definite Eric Carle vibe, particularly on the “polar bear”—but it’s illustrations such as an oversized splotchy “moon” with pines standing majestically beneath that truly capture the eye. While the renderings vary in artistic style from letter to letter, Hopgood doesn’t shy away from dramatic, intense colors and lots of stark contrast in his speckled and richly textured illustrations. A functional mirror on letter Y is a highlight, allowing little ones to gaze in at “you.” Occasional pages that contain two letters feel crammed—what could that stylized, graphic “rainbow” have looked like with more space? One human appears, a pale-skinned child admiring the “clouds.”

An elegantly executed abecedary. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23881-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020


From the I Can Learn! series

A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging.

This noisy board book is designed to thrill tots fascinated with all things construction.

A tactile backhoe digger is center stage on each of the five cutout pages, complete with flaps. Brief rhyming text describes the machine’s actions as it works throughout the day. Animal characters engaged in manual labor or operating other machinery—a bulldozer, crane, road roller, and dump truck—describe more work that goes on at a construction site in small speech bubbles. Finding the mouse in every scene adds to the fun. On each page, a little bird sporting a hard hat invites young builders to press various parts of the silicone digger to activate a range of distinct sounds. The digger’s track pad sounds different from the sound of its arm moving dirt. The problem is that the digger itself is passive; the track pad and arm don’t actually move. The machine stays in the same place on every spread. The caution light beeps but doesn’t light up. Savvy kids will quickly realize that all the sounds are accessible from the first spread without having to turn the pages. The sound is the most engaging part of the book, but with only five sounds, this feature won’t hold most youngsters’ attention for long.

A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging. (Novelty board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-684-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021


Useful for toddling birders in need of board books about colors.

Gorgeous birds amid foliage of similar hues introduce eight basic colors.

The two birds presented on each spread not only are of similar coloration, but also live in the same North American habitat. A scarlet tanager and a cardinal, both male, perch in a red maple tree; a male Eastern bluebird and a blue jay appear with morning glories and blueberries. The name of each color is printed in large font, while the name of each bird is in a much smaller one. Whether the bird shown is male or female, or if the male and female have similar coloring, is also indicated. The names of the trees they perch upon are identified in a note on the back cover. These details will be lost on most toddlers, but caregivers will appreciate being able to answer questions knowledgeably. Colors featured are from the standard box of crayons, except that pink is substituted for purple. Black and white share a spread. The cover image, of a cardinal, goldfinch, and bluebird in a birdbath, is not nearly as inviting as the images within. The final spread shows children (one white, one black, one Asian) assembling a puzzle that includes the same birds. This may serve as a reprise but will probably be skipped over. Bird-loving readers will probably feel that the space could have been put to better use by giving white birds their own page or adding a purple martin.

Useful for toddling birders in need of board books about colors. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-742-6

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017