A clever approach in search of the appropriate format.

COWS!

From the DR. Books series

A question-and-answer exchange about farm-dwelling bovines.

The project begins with “Hey Diddle, Diddle,” with words missing from the iconic rhyme, prompting little ones to fill in the key words. Subsequent double-page spreads encourage dialogic reading, an early literacy practice in which parents, caregivers, and educators ask open-ended questions to encourage language and vocabulary development, as the back cover notes and the text actively models. Cenko’s opaque, jewel-toned paintings are a mélange of panels of various sizes and graphic clues sprinkled with question marks. Some of the illustrations are droll, clever, and recognizable. However, some panels may be too small for little ones to see enough to identify and label objects and actions. Young children who are ready for a dialogic-reading approach are often also ready for paper pages and longer texts, so this can be considered more a book to get caregivers comfortable with the practice than one that is aimed squarely at toddlers.

A clever approach in search of the appropriate format. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-936669-72-1

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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