Appealing characters, novel presentation, and useful concepts—a winner! (Board book. 1-3)


From the Zoe and Zack series

A clever introduction to the concept of opposites for the board-book set.

Clear, simple drawings and the ingenious use of die-cut pages illustrate several paired, contrary concepts. Zoe, a zebra, and her friend Zack, a chameleon, introduce readers to a series of geographical, physical, and emotional antipodes. On the first two pages, the two friends run down parallel sets of stairs; turn the page with the die-cut staircase, and those very same images of Zoe and Zack appear to be bounding up the stairs. In the next spread, Zoe and Zack sit sadly, watching a caged bird. Turn the die-cut page, and the bars of the cage become the stems of flowers, as the bird flies free to the obvious delight of the now-happy friends. Readers will easily grasp the contrasted concepts, although not all of the words are exact antonyms. “Happy” is paired with “sad” and also with “angry.” A castle is “knocked down,” rather than broken, and then “fixed.” The book was originally published in French; some of the featured terms may have been more obvious opposites prior to (the uncredited) translation. Perhaps the weakest pairing is “upset” and “not upset anymore,” although the expression of opposites through negation is a useful, age-appropriate construction, and the meaning, expressed in terms of lost ice cream and the palliative power of sharing, couldn’t be clearer.

Appealing characters, novel presentation, and useful concepts—a winner! (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-74708-700-1

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging.


From the I Can Learn! series

This noisy board book is designed to thrill tots fascinated with all things construction.

A tactile backhoe digger is center stage on each of the five cutout pages, complete with flaps. Brief rhyming text describes the machine’s actions as it works throughout the day. Animal characters engaged in manual labor or operating other machinery—a bulldozer, crane, road roller, and dump truck—describe more work that goes on at a construction site in small speech bubbles. Finding the mouse in every scene adds to the fun. On each page, a little bird sporting a hard hat invites young builders to press various parts of the silicone digger to activate a range of distinct sounds. The digger’s track pad sounds different from the sound of its arm moving dirt. The problem is that the digger itself is passive; the track pad and arm don’t actually move. The machine stays in the same place on every spread. The caution light beeps but doesn’t light up. Savvy kids will quickly realize that all the sounds are accessible from the first spread without having to turn the pages. The sound is the most engaging part of the book, but with only five sounds, this feature won’t hold most youngsters’ attention for long.

A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging. (Novelty board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-684-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Useful for toddling birders in need of board books about colors.


Gorgeous birds amid foliage of similar hues introduce eight basic colors.

The two birds presented on each spread not only are of similar coloration, but also live in the same North American habitat. A scarlet tanager and a cardinal, both male, perch in a red maple tree; a male Eastern bluebird and a blue jay appear with morning glories and blueberries. The name of each color is printed in large font, while the name of each bird is in a much smaller one. Whether the bird shown is male or female, or if the male and female have similar coloring, is also indicated. The names of the trees they perch upon are identified in a note on the back cover. These details will be lost on most toddlers, but caregivers will appreciate being able to answer questions knowledgeably. Colors featured are from the standard box of crayons, except that pink is substituted for purple. Black and white share a spread. The cover image, of a cardinal, goldfinch, and bluebird in a birdbath, is not nearly as inviting as the images within. The final spread shows children (one white, one black, one Asian) assembling a puzzle that includes the same birds. This may serve as a reprise but will probably be skipped over. Bird-loving readers will probably feel that the space could have been put to better use by giving white birds their own page or adding a purple martin.

Useful for toddling birders in need of board books about colors. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-742-6

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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