A repetitive picture book that struggles to be interesting.


Lively illustrations stand out in this rustic tale.

Unkempt Farmer Brown takes his tractor on a trip into town, and along the way he meets various animals frolicking in singular sartorial splendor. After each animal sings a little ditty about how much it loves its item of clothing, Farmer Brown invites them, Mr. Gumpy–like, to “[h]op aboard.” This template is repeated on each spread with a different animal and a different article of clothing (the calico cat wears a hat, the turtledoves wear gloves, and so on), and by the end, the tractor is filled and they’ve all arrived in town. There, the animals urge Farmer Brown to go get himself some new clothes, and after he does, he sings his own song about how much he loves his new outfit. Because most of the spreads are nearly identical in narrative, with only the rhyming animal-and-clothing pairs changing, the overall effect is a stale storyline that dampens rather than builds tension. Mr. Gumpy’s punt tips over, unlike this tractor. The illustrations, by contrast, are executed with a lively line and cheerful watercolor washes that entertain the eye. While they try their best to lift up the flat storyline, they do not succeed. The endpapers, in a somber, unrelieved dark blue, do nothing to add story interest.

A repetitive picture book that struggles to be interesting. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1477847800

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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Fun format; bland text.


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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Although a bit on the slight side, this offering is infused with a warm, light humor just right for cuddling up with a young...


This title previously published in the U.K. takes a cozy look at all kinds of kisses.

Walsh’s rhyming text is full of cutesy rhythms: “Kisses on noses, kisses on toes-es. Sudden kisses when you least supposes.” Sometimes the phrasing stumbles: “Who likes to kiss? I do! I do! Even the shy do. Why not try, too?” But toddlers and young preschoolers will probably not mind. They will be too engaged in spotting the lively penguin on each spread and too charmed by Abbot’s winsome illustrations that fittingly extend the wording in the story. Patient dogs queue up for a smooch from a frog prince, cool blue “ ’normous elephants” contrast strikingly with bright red “little tiny ants” and a bewildered monkey endures a smattering of lipstick kisses. Be the kiss small or tall, one to start or end the day, young readers are reminded that “the very best kiss… / is a kiss from you!” Perhaps no big surprise but comforting nonetheless.

Although a bit on the slight side, this offering is infused with a warm, light humor just right for cuddling up with a young tyke or sharing with a gathering for storytime.     (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2769-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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