When there are so many titles available that provide counting practice without sacrificing engaging text and illustrations,...

FIVE LITTLE SNOWMEN

An interactive counting book featuring five playful snowmen.

A long rectangular shape is cut through the book so that readers can see and manipulate, from every double-page spread, five numbered snowmen who slide from one side of the row to the other for counting practice. Text in a fairly small font offers a perfunctory story about a robin helping a snowman to find a friend, after which three more snowmen join them in winter play. Boldface text beneath the rectangular window lets children know when they should move another snowman from left to right as they count to five; they can then move them all back to the left again to start the game anew. The serviceable story and illustrations both seem to have been crafted in support of the “slide and count” element of the text. Unfortunately, this idea falls flat in execution because when the book is tilted in any direction, the snowmen slide back and forth willy-nilly, disrupting the counting process. Companion title Five Christmas Reindeer is very similar, inviting children to count the reindeer as they prepare to help Santa deliver presents.

When there are so many titles available that provide counting practice without sacrificing engaging text and illustrations, this simply doesn’t make the cut. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0170-5

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside.

EIGHT JOLLY REINDEER

Readers can count down eight of Santa's reindeer as they jump up and out of the scene. 

In each one of the mostly double-page spreads, one reindeer, from Dasher to Blitzen, plays a central role in a winter activity (sledding, ski jumping, ice skating—and soccer and yoga?) that launches the creature into the air. Glitter-speckled tabs, each with small portraits of a member of Santa's herd, appear at either the top or the right side of each page, which little fingers will enjoy flipping. In what looks to be pencil-and-watercolor cartoons, Rogers uses different facial expressions, as well as collars, bows or other accessories, to distinguish the reindeer from one another. Donner (not Donder) and Blitzen are squeezed together on the penultimate spread, likely to keep the page count down. The verse mostly scans, but the rhyme scheme has become the cliché of counting books: "Eight jolly reindeer / stretching up to heaven. / Up goes Dasher / and then there are... // Seven...." Santa, his iconic sleigh and the eight reindeer in flight make a dramatic and required appearance on the book's final double-page spread. 

As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-65145-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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