Whether it’s storytime for a large group or one-on-one laptime, just try and stop kids from following this book’s titular...


A hands-on approach (literally) to the wide and wonderful world of instruments.

Seven instruments sit on a stage, ready and waiting to be played. A multiracial cast of kids instructs young readers on how to play each instrument. As readers strum the picture of the guitar, bang the drum, or tap the piano keys, onomatopoeic sounds are spelled out in large display type on the page. By the time readers come to the performance at the end they’ll need little urging to get their groove on as well. Wiseman’s art cleverly makes each instrument something readers can “play,” blowing them up on the page and even forcing the occasional 90-degree turn when it suits. Librarians and caregivers should prepare for rips, tears, and other signs of adoration-turned-annihilation from young fans as they take to these instruments with gusto. Interactive picture books may be a dime a dozen, but this latest product of the post–Press Here (2011) era makes for a clever combination of interactive elements and good old-fashioned read-aloud know-how. Interestingly, the companion title, Pet This Book, is less successful, concentrating instead on petting, feeding, and caring for animals. Though well-intentioned, it lacks the bombast and wit of Play This Book’s premise.

Whether it’s storytime for a large group or one-on-one laptime, just try and stop kids from following this book’s titular encouragement. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-506-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising...


A wordless picture book both soothing and gently humorous.

The cover displays the template that will appear throughout: black pages with stylized, silvery, moonlit flora and fauna, except where the flashlight’s glow shows the colors of objects as they appear in full-spectrum light. That triangular beam will reveal such things as a beaver in a pond, bats in the sky, mice munching on apples and a set of colorful Tibetan prayer flags suspended between two woodland trees. Although rendered in gouache, the art resembles a scratch painting, with myriad tiny plants and animals inscribed into the black background, starting with captivating endpapers. On the title page, an androgynous child in a tent lies propped on elbows, reading a book by flashlight. Because there is no text, the sets of double-page spreads that follow initially leave room for interpretation as to whether one child or two are next seen happily perusing the night woods, flashlight in hand. No matter; the important elements are the amazing details in the art, the funny twist at the end and the ability of the author-illustrator to create a dark night world utterly devoid of threat.

Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising moon over the course of one night in the forest. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Perhaps best enjoyed by grandmothers.


A little girl’s visit with her grandmother is filled with dancing from the moment the door opens at her New York City apartment.

A former prima ballerina, Grand Jeté passes her love of ballet to her granddaughter as they arabesque to make lunch and plié before eating. Then they do their hair and makeup, topping it off with their special holiday outfits. Together they visit Grand Jeté’s friends backstage at Lincoln Center. Finally, they take their seats and the curtain rises on The Nutcracker. Throughout the performance, Grand Jeté fondly remembers when she used to dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. When the curtain closes, the duo waltzes away, Grand Jeté telling the little girl that she too could be a ballerina one day. Written by a former prima ballerina, this seasonal book puts the emphasis on the grandmother. Although the little girl narrates the story, it is Grand Jeté who experiences the emotional arc. The brief text moves the story along, only occasionally stumbling during transitions. The detailed illustrations, featuring the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker costumes and sets, are joyous and bubbly. Although there is a handful of diverse characters in the background, nearly all humans present White, including the main characters. Families preparing to see The Nutcracker for the first time may appreciate the very brief summary of the ballet included within the story. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Perhaps best enjoyed by grandmothers. (glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-239202-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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