Good intentions notwithstanding, this French import is not really a reason to celebrate.

MR. BEAR'S BIRTHDAY

From the Mr. Bear series

Mr. Bear’s birthday guests are on their way!

There’s a party at Mr. Bear’s house, and a madcap group is invited: animals (among them an “always cold” pup in knit cap and puffy coat), humans (one is a pale goth girl accessorized with a snake), and even a visitor “from far away” (an aggressively green, party-hat–clad ET). The eclectic guests include a sloth zooming in a wheelchair, one child with a single parent and another with two dads, and a gender-nonconforming child with a stereotypical boy’s haircut who “likes to wear dresses.” All the aforementioned humans present White; there is only one guest of color, a Black child with an exuberant Afro who, in a rather offensive touch, bears a comb as a gift. “Everyone is invited” is an earnest message, but it gets lost among the long, meandering list of attendees, with the promised party an afterthought. Set against brilliant backgrounds, the dapper guests are illustrated in a portrait style, with their prominent heads gazing out at readers. Labeled, disappointingly flimsy fold-out flaps concealing the gifts accentuate the fantastical ambience, with a “portable radio” present from a rhino in his undies and a first-edition Proust from a bibliophile bear. An almost comically oversized trim has scale problems: It’s cumbersome for lap children, but the foldouts are too small to use in group settings.

Good intentions notwithstanding, this French import is not really a reason to celebrate. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-03631-825-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer.

PEPPA'S GIANT PUMPKIN

From the Peppa Pig series

Peppa hopes to join her classmates in a Halloween pumpkin competition in this adaptation of a story from the popular British television program Peppa Pig.

With the help of Granny and Grandpa Pig, Peppa turns her giant pumpkin, which is the size of a compact car, into a jack-o’-lantern. The trio is flummoxed when it comes time to transport the pumpkin to the competition, so they call on Miss Rabbit and her helicopter to airlift the pumpkin to the festivities as Peppa and her grandparents ride inside. Peppa arrives just in time for the contest and wins the prize for best flying pumpkin. The scenes look as if they are pulled directly from the television show, right down to the rectangular framing of some of the scenes. While the story is literally nothing new, the text is serviceable, describing the action in two to three sentences per page. The pumpkin-shaped book and orange foil cover will likely attract youngsters, whether they are Peppa fans or not.

This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-33922-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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