Those who relish an eclectic vibe will fall for this odd offering.

Explore a quirky collection of creatures and things in this ABC book with a decidedly retro feel.

With an aesthetic reminiscent of 1951’s The Little Golden ABC, French author/illustrator Aracil presents a throwback abecedary infused with modern hipness. A blocky, oversized uppercase letter dominates the verso with a trio of smaller letters beneath: lowercase block, as well as upper- and lowercase cursive, though does the ABC set really need familiarity with cursive? Three small Day-Glo bears inconsistently peek out from most large letters; their emotionless, mouthless faces border on disconcerting. The unexpected continues on the recto: While there’s the familiar “ant” and “alligator” among the assortment of “A” objects, the distinctly unusual choice “ax” also appears. Elsewhere, “Ulysses” (the Greek hero) and “Yeti” (munching a selection of Day-Glo popsicles, naturally) also make appearances. “P” epitomizes this sauciness, with its small boy (back to) and his golden stream. Adult readers who smirk at this tongue-in-cheek humor are likely to love this book; if not, move on. The illustration styles vary wildly, from smooth-edged funky vintage “cars” to a “fox” rendered in wild, brushy style. Animals both anthropomorphized (a “rhino” holding a “racket”) and untamed (a roaring “jaguar”) share a sense of swanky flamboyance, accented by those Day-Glo highlights. The dazzling orange binding and the extra-tall trim will surely lure little eyes.

Those who relish an eclectic vibe will fall for this odd offering. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-74709-500-6

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019


A cheery board book to reinforce the oneness of babykind.

Ten babies in 10 countries greet friends in almost 10 languages.

Countries of origin are subtly identified. For example, on the first spread, NYC is emblazoned on a blond, white baby’s hat as well as a brown baby’s scoot-car taxi. On the next spread, “Mexico City” is written on a light brown toddler’s bike. A flag in each illustration provides another hint. However, the languages are not named, so on first reading, the fine but important differences between Spanish and Portuguese are easily missed. This is also a problem on pages showing transliterated Arabic from Cairo and Afrikaans from Cape Town. Similarly, Chinese and Japanese are transliterated, without use of traditional hànzì or kanji characters. British English is treated as a separate language, though it is, after all, still English. French (spoken by 67 million people) is included, but German, Russian, and Hindi (spoken by 101 million, 145 million, and 370 million respectively) are not. English translations are included in a slightly smaller font. This world survey comes full circle, ending in San Francisco with a beige baby sleeping in an equally beige parent’s arms. The message of diversity is reinforced by images of three babies—one light brown, one medium brown, one white—in windows on the final spread.

A cheery board book to reinforce the oneness of babykind. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-938093-87-6

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Duo Press

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017


Satisfying, engaging, and sure to entertain the toddlers at whom it is aimed.

Nine basic shapes in vivid shifting colors are stacked on pages in various permutations.

This visually striking and carefully assembled collection of shapes, which seems to have been inspired by an Eric Carle aesthetic, invites young children to put their observation, categorization, problem-solving, color, and spatial-relation skills to work, pondering shapes and compositions—and even learning about prepositions in the process. As the text says, “a stack of shapes can make you think and wonder what you see.” First, readers see a circle under a strawberry (the red diamond with a leafy, green top and yellow-triangle seeds) and then that berry over a green square. The orange oval made to look like a fish is added to a stack of three shapes to become “yellow over diamond under guppy over green.” And so on. The metamorphosis of many of these simple shapes into animals (a yellow circle becomes a lion; a green square, a frog; a pink heart, a pig; a yellow diamond, a chicken) will surprise and delight children. Questions are directed at readers: Is a square with two round eyes and semicircle feet a “frog or square or green?” Why, all of the above! The text possesses a pleasing rhythm and subtle rhymes, positively begging to be read aloud: “circle next to berry / square by bear by sweet // blue up high / pig down low / yellow in between.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Satisfying, engaging, and sure to entertain the toddlers at whom it is aimed. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-79720-508-3

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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