It’s a fish-eat-fish world out there; kids need to learn how to count in order to survive.

ONE LONELY FISH

Count from one to 10 with this nimble concept creation.

One tiny fish with a bright red tail swims all alone. A sandy ocean landscape lines the bottom, with swirls of blue covering most of the spread. The text is spare: “1 one lonely fish….” But a flip of the page (featuring a clever triangular snip from the recto page’s edge) suddenly shows a new fish, mouth open wide, swimming right behind the first one! Now there are “2 two fish.” The next page, with an even larger triangular snip, brings a still bigger fish to the aquatic parade, this one with pointy teeth, ready to chomp. “3 three fish.” (Alas, the paper engineering falters a bit: the final, smallest page turn does not fully conceal the text from the previous fish's spread.) Assuredly designed to appeal to toddlers, this spry page-turner has minimal text, bold numerals, and varied, colorful fish, all pleasingly lined up by increasing size. The ocean floor stays constant, with the exception of two crab friends: one scuttles about (while growing increasingly worried), and one naps through most of the action. Anticipation rather than narration propels each page turn, and the repeated practice of counting every time a new fish is added is sure to delight youngsters. One comically big gulp at the end makes everything come full circle.

It’s a fish-eat-fish world out there; kids need to learn how to count in order to survive. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-201-7

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.

FIVE BLACK CATS

A troop of cats traverse a spooky landscape as they make their way to a party hosted by ghosts.

Each double-page spread shows the felines’ encounters with the likes of an owl, jack-o’-lanterns or a bat. One or two of these creepy meetings may be too abstract for the youngest readers, as the cats hear eerie noises with no discernible source on the page. The text, which consists of one rhyming couplet per scene, mostly scans despite a couple of wobbles: “Five black cats get a bit of a scare / As the flip-flapping wings of a bat fill the air.” The sleek, slightly retro art, likely created using a computer, depicts the cats cavorting at night through a shadowy cityscape, the countryside and a haunted house; they may scare some toddlers and delight others. A brighter color palette would have given the project a friendlier, more universal appeal. Luckily, the well-lit, final party scene provides a playful conclusion.

For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-611-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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