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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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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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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