¡CUCÚ! EN EL MAR/ PEEKABOO! IN THE OCEAN

Five sea creatures, five flaps, 10 pages—just enough for a bilingual board book.

Starting with the title, the Spanish text always comes first, with the English translation below in a different color. The peekaboo theme is emphasized, with each left-hand page asking the same question: “¡Cucú! ¿Quién está ahi? / Peek a boo! Who’s there?” On the opposite page, an animal uses their flippers, tentacles, fins, or claws to cover their face. Shaped, full-page gatefolds always open to the right to create an extended spread with the original question, the answer in both Spanish and English, and a stylized image of the animal. The words stand out against color-saturated backgrounds. Each animal is shown and described in action: “dolphin splashing,” “octopus creeping,” “turtle swimming,” “seal diving,” and “crab digging.” Very quickly, even the youngest children will start repeating the question in both languages and manipulate the large, sturdy flaps. The action words are a stretch, but one difficult word and its translation is just right for toddlers. There is no pronunciation guide for readers not conversant with Spanish, but the clear design and repetition make up for this minor gap. Hopefully the other titles in the series—Peekaboo! On the Farm, In the Jungle, and In the Snow (all 2016)—will also be rereleased in bilingual editions.

¡Bien hecho! Well done! (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78628-553-9

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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