The sturdy binding and exceptionally thick pages make this and its companion acceptable choices where board books get heavy...

BABY FACES

From the Baby Sparkle series

A sturdy, serviceable board book features babies doing what babies do best—look cute.

The text takes the form of prompts, as if from a photographer in a studio. “Make a smiley, happy face. / Hee! Hee! Hee!” The first, smiling baby has curly brown hair and light-brown skin, but the other five in this brief album are light-skinned, albeit charming. The text is wordy to accommodate the awkwardly forced rhymes that stretch over two double-page spreads. “Be really grumpy with me!” concludes the rhyme begun on the previous spread with “Hee! Hee! Hee!” Moreover, that “Be really grumpy with me!” paired with a picture of a distraught, crying child seems rather mean-spirited. Saying simply, “Make a smiley, happy face,” “Make a sad and gloomy face,” and so on would have avoided this problem while keeping the text age appropriate, giving it a genuine feel, and avoiding the singsong tone. The rhymes in Baby Night-night, published simultaneously, work somewhat better, though rhyming “ting-a-ling” with “begin” is a stretch.  Foil stripes on the covers and sparkly textures inside seem designed to make this Baby Sparkle series stand out on the shelf, but these decorative features have no relationship to the content of each title. The claim on the back cover that “sparkly patterns stimulate baby's vision” may sell books to eager young parents but is not backed up by scientific research.

The sturdy binding and exceptionally thick pages make this and its companion acceptable choices where board books get heavy use. (Board book. 6 mos.-1)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4654-4466-0

Page Count: 14

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Haphazard but jolly enough for one outing; it probably won’t last for more.

THE CRAYONS' CHRISTMAS

From the Creative Creature Catcher series

A flurry of mail addressed to Duncan’s crayons ushers in the Christmas season in this novelty spinoff of the bestselling The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) and The Day the Crayons Came Home (2015).

Actual cards and letters are tucked into envelopelike pouches pasted to the pages; these are joined in some cases by other ephemera for a package that is likely to invite sudden, intense play followed by loss and/or damage that will render the book a disappointment to reread. That’s probably OK, as in contrast to the clever story that kicked this small series off, this outing has a hastily composed feel that lacks cohesion. The first letter is addressed to Peach from Mom and includes a paper doll of the “naked” (de-wrappered) crayon along with a selection of tabbed changes of clothing that includes a top hat and tails and a bikini top and bottom. Peach’s implied gender fluidity does not mitigate the unfortunate association of peach with skin color established in the first book. The sense of narrative improvisation is cemented with an early page turn that takes the crayons from outdoors snow play to “Feeling…suddenly very Christmas-y, the crayons headed inside.” Readers can unpack a box of punch-out decorations; a recipe for gluten-free Christmas cookies that begins “go to store and buy gluten-free cookies”; a punch-out dreidel (turns out Grey is Jewish); a board game (“six-sided die” not included); and a map of Esteban (aka Pea Green) and Neon Red’s travels with Santa.

Haphazard but jolly enough for one outing; it probably won’t last for more. (Novelty. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51574-6

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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