Creative—but doesn’t quite nail it.


From the TouchThinkLearn series

Put on your hard hat and get ready to build by moving construction-themed puzzle pieces about the page in this French import.

In a conversational narration, a pair of builders with black hair and tangerine skin congenially chat with each other and readers as they detail the many stages involved in building a home. After detailing how the duo erects the house, it warmly concludes with a new project: a baby so they might now “build [their] family.” As there’s a fair amount of text, studded with rich vocabulary like balcony and joists, it’s most suitable for older toddler and preschool listeners. Deneux’s signature style shines, with abundant white space and graphically simple renderings of people and equipment made primarily of bold, unlined geometric shapes in a cohesive palette of olive, crimson, goldenrod, and black. Where the book stumbles is in its interactivity. Conceptually, moving the pieces from a recessed area on the left page to a recess on the right to help the duo complete a building task is ingenious, as a square and rectangle become bricks or a triangle roof is added, but in practice, this requires some serious manual dexterity. Pieces designed to fit tight require prying to remove, and sometimes, placing the correct pieces into the slot is tricky. Caregivers will bemoan the many tiny parts as they disappear into bottomless toy boxes.

Creative—but doesn’t quite nail it. (Board book/novelty. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7871-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard.


When a fierce wind descends on the barnyard, the animals hear some odd noises…and they’re coming from their own mouths.

The sudden wind unsettles all the animals on the farm just when they should be getting ready for sleep. Instead, they anxiously “cheep” and “cluck” and “oink” and “quack” and “moooo.” They shift nervously, pull together, and make all sorts of noises. All except Turtle, who tucks into his shell under an old log and sleeps. In the morning, though, the animals get a surprise. Pig says, “Cluck”; the Little Chicks say, “Neigh”; Horse crows, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” How will they get their proper sounds back? Turtle has an idea, and he enjoys the process so much that he decides to open his mouth the next time the wind plays tricks at the farm: Perhaps he’ll catch a sound all his own. Chua’s cartoon barnyard is bright, and her animals, expressive, their faces and body language slightly anthropomorphized. The edges of the figures sometimes betray their digital origins. Though the tale is humorous and will give lots of opportunity for practicing animal sounds, the audience is hard to pin down, as the young children sure to enjoy mooing and clucking may not have the patience to sit through the somewhat lengthy text.

For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8735-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The flat ending is disappointing for a group of characters who could have exhibited a rousing rhythmic finale.


Just before showtime, the animals in the band must search for their instruments in the lost and found by their identifying sounds.

A mouse happily claims the trumpet after a congenial-looking rabbit clerk produces a bicycle horn, trumpet, and toy train in response to a request for an instrument that makes a “Toot! Toot! Toot!” sound. Similarly a beaver retrieves the triangle from an assortment of things that make a “Ding! Ding! Ding!” sound. An elephant and a squirrel find their piano and drum, and the band reassembles, led by their conductor, a bat. The animals’ questions are phrased in rhyming couplets: “The thing I lost goes Plink! Plank! Plunk! I play it with my big, long trunk,” explains the elephant. The simple, black-outlined cartoons against a white or pale yellow background extend the narrative so that readers are expected to discern objects with their corresponding sounds. The rabbit offers the elephant first a piggy bank (“Plink!”), then a flowerpot full of water (“Plank!”), and then a comically tiny piano (“Plunk!”). Unfortunately, as the band comes together, their meager performance reflects the bareness of this storyline. The bat ends the search and exclaims, “You found my things! They sound so grand. / One, two, three— // let’s hit it, band! / Toot! Ding! Plunk! Boom!”

The flat ending is disappointing for a group of characters who could have exhibited a rousing rhythmic finale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238068-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet