Don’t expect kids to pause to identify the mischief-makers or talk about the pictures, at least at first—do expect a request...

IT'S NOT THE PUPPY

The big-eyed pup on the cover of this board book is obviously a scamp and quite possibly to blame for all sorts of mayhem—or maybe not.

Each page shows a different character engaged in some activity, often mischievous, that might be expected from a dog, but the picture and text clearly indicate otherwise. The actual culprits are not named, and not all are animals. They include a bunny, raccoon, cat, and three children. Young children will quickly pick up the refrain, “It’s not the puppy?”—the proper response to the unobtrusively rhyming question posed on each left-hand page. The language is clear and direct: “When he waves his furry tail, / who knocks down the garbage pail?” The lively, cartoon illustrations include plenty of related details—flowers in the garden where the bunny digs, flies buzzing around the garbage can a raccoon has raided. Unfortunately, the pictures of children tend to reinforce gender stereotypes with what appears to be boys having active roles—tracking in mud while chasing a ball and practicing “doggy paddles in the tub.” The only child textually identified by gender is a girl hiding from thunder. The final picture is of another, less-fearful pigtailed child waking to “a big wet kiss surprise… / it IS the puppy!” All children depicted have brown skin and curly black hair.

Don’t expect kids to pause to identify the mischief-makers or talk about the pictures, at least at first—do expect a request to “read it again.” (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68152-409-2

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Amicus Ink

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Ideal for parents, whether going it alone or together, and for the babies and toddlers they love.

LEO LOVES DADDY

A fun-loving daddy’s dedication is apparent in this slice-of-life board book.

Leo, a brown-skinned boy with tight curls, full lips, and a broad nose, delights in playing with Daddy, who has equally clearly Black features. Leo wakes up to Daddy tickling his tummy. Then this superinvolved father fixes pancakes, dances, takes Leo on a bike ride, and tends to Leo’s scraped knee. Together they build with blocks, take a bath, and snuggle with a book before bed. Companion title Leo Loves Mommy follows a similar trajectory through the day. Leo builds a blanket fort with couch cushions, practices yoga, and paints with his mother, who also presents Black. After a bike ride, mommy’s lunch “is so flashy”: celery and carrot sticks turned into edible critters with fruit and nuts. The loving devotion of both parents is tangible and genuine, sweet but not cloying. Simple two-line sentences with unobtrusive rhymes across spreads provide descriptions of the activities and add vocabulary. Each spread illustrates one event against a clear solid color background, free of distracting decoration. Together they complete a full picture of a busy toddler’s day and his loving relationship with each parent.

Ideal for parents, whether going it alone or together, and for the babies and toddlers they love. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-241-2

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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It’s not exactly original, but the execution, with familiar, appealing Cabrera illustrations, is attractive and perfect for...

HELLO LAMB

This simple board book invites little ones to greet baby farm animals (including frog, bunny, and bee) with their corresponding sounds.

The first double-page spread greets readers with a bright yellow smiling sun and the text “Hello, Sun. / Hello, Day. / Wake up, babies. / Time to play!” Each succeeding spread has a distinct, gently patterned background, with very brief text on the verso (“Hello Puppy! / Woof Woof”). Filling up the recto is a vibrant illustration of the baby animal’s face, wide eyed and smiling, outlined in black. The final spread presents the face of a cute baby with chalky brown-gray skin, bright black eyes, and short black hair: “Goo Goo.” Babies and toddlers will enjoy looking at the baby faces, animals and human, and repeating the sounds. A companion book, Goodnight Bear, has a similar pattern of text and illustrations, though the palette is suitably darker. The moon, surprisingly, has its eyes shut, and succeeding spreads depict an owlet, a baby bat, a baby hedgehog, and other familiar nocturnal baby animals, all wide-awake and smiling. The final spread depicts a cute baby with pale skin, blond hair, and closed eyes.

It’s not exactly original, but the execution, with familiar, appealing Cabrera illustrations, is attractive and perfect for the target audience. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0430-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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