A pleasing, well-designed book readers can return to.


This colorful, tactile French import introduces children to numbers and counting.

In both this book and its companion, Mr. Bear’s Little Shapes, Aracil introduces readers to preschool concepts through beautifully designed, touch-friendly elements. Mr. Bear’s Little Shapes is a catalog of basic and more advanced shapes, ranging from simple circles and triangles to stars and semicircles. The items chosen are accessible, and the pages are cleverly tabbed on the edges with die-cut shapes that together serve as a clever kind of index for tiny fingers. Unfortunately, the author mixes both three- and two-dimensional shapes, including spherical items such as balls and the moon for circle and tents and pyramids for triangle, requiring caregivers to back and fill on the details. Additionally, the circle and oval tabs are impossible to tell apart when the book is closed. Mr. Bear’s Little Numbers is more educationally sound and more fun for young readers as well: The numbers are embossed with a pebbly texture, encouraging children to trace their shapes while also counting the quirky collections of items. Unlike many beginning counting books, the pages go beyond the number 10, introducing children to 20, 30, 40, 50, and 100. Although most in the audience will not be able to count to 100, the pictures still give them a sense of the relative quantities in a fun and interesting way. The neon color palette and cartoonlike pictures are incredibly appealing visually—both stylish and fun.

A pleasing, well-designed book readers can return to. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 979-1-03631-355-4

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.


Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.


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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