While this story treads familiar territory, it radiates warmth and sincerity to ease readers into a peaceful night’s rest.

LITTLE OWL'S BEDTIME

A sweet and comforting bedtime tale for little ones.

It’s “late o’clock,” and Little Owl’s mother is snuggling him into bed. He refuses to sleep and attempts to postpone the inevitable in various, expected ways. Children will relate to his stalling tactics, which include asking for another story, declaring a fear of the dark, and misplacing his beloved stuffed toy Hedge. Mommy Owl patiently handles these diversions with clever responses that soothe her little one. She gently comforts him by turning the sources of his distress into imaginative scenes of whimsy. These charming depictions display as double-page spreads; they stand out through the use of color and provide a nice contrast in perspective next to the bedtime scenes, which mostly unfurl in vignettes and full-page images. Little Owl finally settles down to sleep after he replicates Mommy’s supportive routine with Hedge. Curiously, this owl family goes to bed at night, which even young readers will recognize as unusual for most of the species. Still, this minor discrepancy may be overlooked by readers and doesn’t detract from the overall message of the reassuring effects of unconditional parental love.

While this story treads familiar territory, it radiates warmth and sincerity to ease readers into a peaceful night’s rest. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0449-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over.

NOISY TRACTOR

From the I Can Learn series

Little ones can explore a day in the life of a rubber-covered, audio-enabled tractor.

The “5 noisy parts!” promised on the cover are powered by a battery embedded in the back of the book, the compartment securely screwed shut. Youngsters are prompted by the text to press various parts of the tractor to make interesting sound effects, such as an engine starting then chugging, a horn, and tire noise on muddy or rocky terrain. A large, tractor-shaped die-cut hole in every page allows children to access the vehicle on every double-page spread but leaves the left-hand pages dominated by that tractor-shaped hole. Farm animals make their signature sounds via speech bubble (horses, chicks, and cows, to name a few) along with other critters offering suggestions about which buttons on the tractor to press. For additional play value, a ladybug and a caterpillar can be spotted on every double-page spread. Labels for most of the animals appear in a clear font along with other farm-centric vocabulary words: pitchfork, seedlings, trough. Elliott’s art is busy, but the simple, eye-catching patterns and graphically clean lines in bright colors will appeal to the audience. While this offering is perfect for toddlers, the extensive warnings in the fine print on the back of the book about what may happen if the button battery is swallowed should scare adults into being vigilant. Thankfully, there is an on/off switch allowing for toggling between a quiet and noisy reading experience.

Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-669-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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