Lap-sit readers will eagerly snuggle up for their own cuddles.

KITTY'S CUDDLES

From the Jane Cabrera's Story Time series

A boisterous kitty playfully debates the merits of hugging various critters before deciding hugging baby brother is the best cuddle of all.

Exuberantly rendered in Cabrera’s signature bold, painterly style, the vibrantly colored full-bleed animals look almost touchable while bright, patterned backgrounds saturated with color make the hugging duos pop off the page. As the big-eyed tan-and-white kitten tries to determine a “favorite friend to cuddle,” the fuzzy tot meets and is enveloped by animals as varied as a luxuriously patterned peacock, an oversized teddy bear, and even a coral-colored octopus with safely rounded, drifting tentacles. Using lighthearted language sure to appeal to little ones, the kitten reflects on what makes each hug special: A small mouse has a “teeny-weeny cuddle” and an elephant, “a big strong” one while even potentially off-putting creatures like a “spiky” porcupine or “scaly” armadillo have reassuring (if leprous, for the latter) cuddles. It’s gratifying to see the little kitty’s progress from seeking cuddles to being large and in charge when readers meet the new baby brother on the last page. Resized from Cabrera’s 2007 picture book of the same name, this is one of those rare board-book adaptations that works well thanks to her brief, toddler-friendly text and emphatic illustration style.

Lap-sit readers will eagerly snuggle up for their own cuddles. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4471-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers.

I LOVE YOU LIKE NO OTTER

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring through rhymed puns and sentimental art.

The title sets the scene for what’s to come: The owl asks the owlet as they fly together, “WHOO loves you?”; the kangaroo and joey make each other “very HOPPY”; and the lioness and cub are a “PURRRFECT pair.” Most of the puns are both unimaginative and groanworthy, and they are likely to go over the heads of toddlers, who are not know for their wordplay abilities. The text is set in abcb quatrains split over two double-page spreads. On each spread, one couplet appears on the verso within a lightly decorated border on pastel pages. On the recto, a full-bleed portrait of the animal and baby appears in softly colored and cozy images. Hearts are prominent on every page, floating between the parent and baby as if it is necessary to show the love between each pair. Although these critters are depicted in mistily conceived natural habitats and are unclothed, they are human stand-ins through and through.

The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers. (Board book. 6 mos-2)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1374-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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