Look elsewhere for board books that don’t seek to confine children to stereotypes at the toddler stage.

I LOVE MY ROBOT

From the Love Meez series

A little boy celebrates his toy robot.

For readers named Henry whose favorite snuggle toys are robots, this may be the perfect board book—or it may just be another cloying offering in Church's Love Meez series. In rhyming first-person text, Henry, a precocious, white toddler with a mop of reddish-brown hair, describes his robot friend and the imaginary adventures they have together. The first page features a wheel to rotate with rainbow dots on the recto and coppery stars on the verso that glimmer as the wheel turns. A mirror on the next double-page spread lets children “see” themselves in the book. Tiny, tearable flaps hide the sounds Robot makes as he falls asleep. Irregular syllable counts make the rhyming text awkward to read aloud. Crucially, the book loses its toddler voice when the narrator says, “Although he's not a person, / Robot's my special friend, / The fun and games we have together / I know will never end.” I Love My Bunny, published simultaneously, follows the same format, with soft-touch bunny tail, scratch-and-sniff cookies, glittery bubbles, and a soft swatch of blanket on the last page. Both reinforce gender stereotypes: boys blast off with robot adventures, and girls host tea parties.

Look elsewhere for board books that don’t seek to confine children to stereotypes at the toddler stage. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-83593-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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Wonderful, indeed

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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