Invigorating and ebullient.

I HATCHED!

A killdeer chick bursts from its egg raring to go.

Pecking its way out of its shell in great good spirits, this little plover is seeing everything for the first time. “My feet are verrrry far away. / And WHOA. / The world looks BIG today.” As the chick explores, Esbaum’s verse rhymes and rollicks: “[O]nce my down is fluffed and dry, / I take off running. / Don’t know why!” It zooms through fields, circling cows and trees; it gazes into a pond, figures out the concept of reflections, describes its own features and breaks into song. Mama pauses it for lunch but not for long: “Uh-oh. Gotta run again. / See you later, / don’t know when. / I’m learning—quickly!—how to steer / while darting here // and here / and here.” Using ink, pencil and soft watercolors, Corace shows the killdeer chick from very close up and from far away across a landscape, emphasizing how quickly it zips back and forth. Predominant tertiary colors with only small splashes of bright primaries emphasize the natural environment and balance the text’s high energy. Certain biological discoveries will amuse young readers (“I stop because…look out below! / Something’s falling from my… / Oh”), while adults will appreciate this baby bird’s similarity to human toddlers.

Invigorating and ebullient. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3688-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.

FIVE BLACK CATS

A troop of cats traverse a spooky landscape as they make their way to a party hosted by ghosts.

Each double-page spread shows the felines’ encounters with the likes of an owl, jack-o’-lanterns or a bat. One or two of these creepy meetings may be too abstract for the youngest readers, as the cats hear eerie noises with no discernible source on the page. The text, which consists of one rhyming couplet per scene, mostly scans despite a couple of wobbles: “Five black cats get a bit of a scare / As the flip-flapping wings of a bat fill the air.” The sleek, slightly retro art, likely created using a computer, depicts the cats cavorting at night through a shadowy cityscape, the countryside and a haunted house; they may scare some toddlers and delight others. A brighter color palette would have given the project a friendlier, more universal appeal. Luckily, the well-lit, final party scene provides a playful conclusion.

For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-611-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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