While there are some clever moments, ultimately it’s a one-joke offering.

I'M PROGRAMMED TO LOVE YOU

A robot caregiver shows their love for their tot bot. In first-person narration, this parental unit describes activities that human parents engage in, such as hugging, kissing, cuddling, teaching, and reading with their youngster. The images show clever interpretations of said activities, with the grown-up droid acting as a night light at bedtime, projecting holograms to teach concepts, feeding Hex Nuts cereal to the little automaton, and welding a knee that has a boo-boo. The art is decidedly retro and recalls many mechanical creatures of several animated movies; the rather surprising palette is dominated by pink, orange, turquoise, and metallic blue. A companion title, I Love You More Than Plunder, follows a similar formula but from a pirate angle. Here a gray-bearded pirate expresses their love for a Pippi Longstocking–esque preschooler with blue, textured hair in four Afro puffs. On each double-page spread this ruddy-complexioned duo engage in buccaneer activities, from “swashbuckling tussles” with other pirates to wrestling sharks underwater. The oversized trim of both titles provides an immersive lap-reading experience for youngsters, though many of the jests are more for grown-ups than the little ones—and will grow old for them quickly. While there are some clever moments, ultimately it’s a one-joke offering. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-948931-15-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Hazy Dell Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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This holiday ditty misses too many beats.

THE ITSY BITSY PILGRIM

From the Itsy Bitsy series

The traditional story of the first Thanksgiving is set to the tune of “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and stars rodents instead of humans.

The titular itsy-bitsy Pilgrim, a mouse dressed in iconic Puritan garb, sails to “a home that’s new” with three other mice on the Mayflower. They build a house, shovel snow, and greet some “itsy bitsy new friends,” who are chipmunks dressed as Native Americans complete with feathered headbands, beaded necklaces, and leather clothing. While Rescek’s art is droll and lively, it is wildly idealized, and the Native Americans’ clothing does not reflect what is understood of Wampanoag attire. The companion title, The Itsy Bitsy Reindeer, presents equally buoyant scenes. The reindeer and several elves, who appear to be white children with pointed ears, help Santa (also white) prepare for his annual sleigh-ride delivery. In both books, would-be singers may struggle to fit all the words and syllables into the meter, and a couple of rhymes are extremely forced (“shop” and “job”?).

This holiday ditty misses too many beats. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6852-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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