An environmentally conscious charmer.

LITTLE DUCK

From the All Natural series

Follow Little Duck as she frolics in her pond. Pick up this board book and immediately notice the pleasing matte, cardboardlike texture of the paper. On the book’s cover, an illustrated leaf proclaims the materials to be “all-natural,” which the publisher attributes to the use of eco-friendly inks and all-recycled paper, a fact that’s sure to delight eco-conscious book buyers. Inside is a pitch-perfect toddler tale chronicling Little Duck’s mild adventures, from splashing into a pond, spotting a dragonfly, greeting a friendly frog and fish, and briefly losing (and then immediately relocating) her siblings to “cuddles [from] Mama” at the end. A direct, matter-of-fact narration recounts the list of activities, striking the perfect balance between sentences concise enough to hold little ones’ attention while adding a smattering of rich vocabulary: “Little Duck is curious and swims closer. The dragonfly’s wings glitter brightly in the sun.” Collagelike illustrations composed of rounded, unlined shapes make the main character look rather like a cheery rubber ducky while minimal and coarsely textured natural environments are pleasantly atmospheric. Because of the unbleached paper, the colors are rather dull, and the lack of contrast gears this for somewhat older readers. A companion book, Little Fox, is equally gentle but suffers from a static main character and an unfortunate typo that confuses the book’s timeline. An environmentally conscious charmer. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2694-6

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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