Best for animal-obsessed preschoolers who have long mastered lions, tigers and bears and are ready to progress to...

ABC ANIMALS

From the AMNH ABC Board Books series

The stable of animal alphabet titles gets a little more crowded with this new contribution from the American Museum of Natural History.

This sturdy, oversized offering presents large, brightly colored capital letters accompanied by a photograph of an animal whose name begins with each letter and a factoid about that animal. A chimpanzee, for example, hangs upside down from a large letter C against a bright orange background. The text reads: “Chimpanzees kiss when they meet each other.” Placed against a solid background and next to enormous letters, the animal images are visually striking, but they definitely lose a sense of scale. The bright blue morpho butterfly, for example, is nearly as large as the chimpanzee it shares a page with. Though some of the selected animals will be familiar to kids—such as the lion, penguin, tiger and zebra—other, more exotic creatures abound. Readers will find, for example, that O is not for owl or ox, but for okapi, an animal with legs “like a zebra’s” but “more closely related to giraffes.” Aside from a couple of duds, the one- to two-sentence facts provided about each animal are generally kid-friendly and interesting.

Best for animal-obsessed preschoolers who have long mastered lions, tigers and bears and are ready to progress to nudibranches, quetzals and X-ray tetra fish. Oh my. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0386-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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