Not a must—but a cool one to share with young penguin fans.


Five little penguins shoot the breeze—until a seal arrives to eat them.

As the quintet sit “on the ice… / The first one [says], ‘Today feels very nice!’ ” Cue the counting as the second and third penguins make their own rhythmic and rhyming observations about the weather. But the fourth and fifth penguins have something else on their minds: the seal that wants them “for a meal!” The penguins dive into the water, making a huge splash as they “swim, swim, swim” and “[fly] through the sea.” When they’ve “lost the seal at last” (as the third penguin opines), they rise up for air and find the seal trailing after them. Rather than a grim final page turn, the book ends as the “sneaky, silly seal” tags one of the penguins to be “it.” In a nice twist on the counting-book formula, all five penguins are a different species. Though these species are not labeled, they appear to be king, macaroni, gentoo, chinstrap, and rockhopper penguins—all of which actually can live in the same Antarctic region. However, that a seal—a natural predator of the penguin—would play tag breaks with scientific consistency. Coleman’s digital illustrations are set in cool tones, making the orange of the penguins’ beaks pop against the frigid backgrounds. Careful readers will notice the seal approaching in every picture.

Not a must—but a cool one to share with young penguin fans. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-805-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Ideal for any community where children count.


A difficult concept is simply and strikingly illustrated for the very youngest members of any community, with a counting exercise to boot.

From the opening invitation, “Living in community, / it's a lot of FUN! / Lets count the ways. / Lets start with ONE,” Nagaro shows an urban community that is multicultural, supportive, and happy—exactly like the neighborhoods that many families choose to live and raise their children in. Text on every other page rhymes unobtrusively. Unlike the vocabulary found in A Is for Activist (2013), this book’s is entirely age-appropriate (though some parents might not agree that picketing is a way to show “that we care”). In A Is for Activist, a cat was hidden on each page; this time, finding the duck is the game. Counting is almost peripheral to the message. On the page with “Seven bikes and scooters and helmets to share,” identifying toys in an artistic heap is confusing. There is only one helmet for five toys, unless you count the second helmet worn by the girl riding a scooter—but then there are eight items, not seven. Seven helmets and seven toys would have been clearer. That quibble aside, Nagara's graphic design skills are evident, with deep colors, interesting angles, and strong lines, in a mix of digital collage and ink.

Ideal for any community where children count. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60980-632-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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An adventurous treat of a bedtime story.


A patient mother with a healthy sense of whimsy helps prepare her headstrong toddler for bed.

The story opens with a toddler, fists raised into the air, proclaiming, “No! No! No!” Thank goodness this not-at-the-moment-sweet creature’s mother is patient and creative as she corrals her child into a bedtime routine that may feel familiar to many readers. The words and behaviors of the child evading bed are translated into animal sounds and behaviors: wide-eyed and asking “Who? Who?” like an owl; shaking hair and roaring like a lion; hanging on for a hug like a koala. And, of course, the requisite leaving bed for a last trip to the bathroom and drink, like a human child. Zunon’s art takes this book to the next level: Her portrayals of the animals mentioned in the text are colorful and full of intriguing patterns and shapes. Additionally, the expressions on the faces of the mother, child, and animals speak volumes, portraying the emotions of each. Arguably, the sweetest part of the story comes at the end, when the child asks to sleep with Mommy and Dad. Though the mother sighs, the child climbs in, along with “owl, bear, snake, kitty, fawn, squirrel, koala, tiger, wolf.” (Readers attuned to details will notice the father’s look of delight at the parade of animals.) All characters are Black.

An adventurous treat of a bedtime story. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3832-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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