HOW MANY KISSES?

A kissfest of a counting book.

Bold cover art depicts two children in silhouette, looking at each other. The first holds a bouquet in front of both their faces, and they appear to be kissing behind it. Open the book, and the frontmatter text directs readers to blow kisses at the characters on interior pages (which makes one wonder why the cover art doesn’t have a character blowing a kiss, too). The first spread shows a cat sleeping on the recto, while on the facing verso there appears a large, yellow numeral 1 leading off the text: “1 kiss for the cat sleeping on the sofa.” Beneath this direction is a yellow dot to reinforce the numeral 1. The next spread follows this design, but with the numeral 2 and two blue dots to count the kisses the reader should blow at the depicted dog. Ensuing pages count up to 10 kisses, with each spread depicting various animals and people (all of whom appear white). Then there’s a leap from 10 to 17 kisses for an owl, 64 for the sun, 823 for the wind, and “millions…for all the children playing around the world!” (Here a few children of color appear in small scale.) This playful, dramatic increase should provoke lots of frantic kiss-blowing on the parts of young readers—and laughter, too.

Mwah! (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65145-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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It’s all very obvious, but there’s no harm in harping on kindness.

ABCS OF KINDNESS

A HIGHLIGHTS BOOK ABOUT KINDNESS

An alphabet book featuring different ways to be kind.

This oversized board book takes a walk through the alphabet and hits on most of the obvious ways in which children can be kind to one another, themselves, and the planet. Berger’s simple text includes both small acts, like “Brightening someone’s day with a smile,” and larger ones, such as “Standing up for someone when no one else will.” The text is direct, without any poetry or flourish, so it reads a bit like an encyclopedia. The acts of kindness feel attainable for young readers, and Trukhan’s illustrations offer practical examples: One child gives up their spot in line for the slide; another makes room at the lunch table. Trukhan’s illustrations are reminiscent of Byron Barton’s, featuring bold, block colors and geometric foundations. The book is inclusive of people with many different skin and hair colors, and it also depicts one child with a cochlear implant and another who walks with forearm crutches. Trukhan’s companion title, Kindess Counts 123, with text by R.A. Strong, echoes both this title’s theme and its inclusivity. While none of the content in either book is particularly revelatory, it is still meaningful and nicely presented.

It’s all very obvious, but there’s no harm in harping on kindness. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-651-3

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Highlights Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A fishy tale that doesn't quite swim in the crowded sea of concept books

BIG FISH LITTLE FISH

From the My Little World series

A mix of marine-life fact and fiction introduces opposites.

With its iconic shape, the eye-catching cover cutout of a bright-orange fish is instantly appealing. Layered die cuts of decreasing size provide texture and handholds for little fingers and form the bodies of varying species of fish. Information about fish habits and habitats is crammed into wordy rhymes with the opposing terms in boldface, but the accuracy of those facts is debatable. Though it’s fair to call the eel “long and very wiggly,” contrasting it with a generic, short yellow fish that’s a rhyme-forced “giggly” introduces a jarring anthropomorphism. In fact, stereotypical human emotions or motivations are attributed to the fish on almost every page. On another page, the slow fish (the only fish not painted with a smile) says, “Even with a big head start, I knew I'd finish last”—a distressingly defeatist message in an otherwise cheery board book. Inexplicably, the final spread depicts all the fish in party hats—turning it into a birthday book. While this may extend its use in day cares, it doesn't help young children learn opposites.

A fishy tale that doesn't quite swim in the crowded sea of concept books . (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58925-215-8

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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