Both too complicated and too simple at the same time.

MAMA MONARCH

Rhyming text follows a monarch butterfly’s migration from Mexico to the Great Lakes.

The couplets work. The poetic images are effective and evocative. But this abbreviated overview will confuse rather than enlighten very young children. The life cycle of the butterfly, that they are threatened, and how people can help them survive are hinted at but not explained. Scientific background printed in a tiny font is on the back cover. A simplified map—a concept that’s far more advanced than the rest of the text, which is mostly an enumeration of flowers—on the second page shows only the northern migration through the Midwest. Western swarms, the southbound route, and sites of winter roosts are not shown. Instead the text describes the flowering plants that provide nutrients for the monarch’s trip. Asters, thistle, a generic “vine,” sunflowers, dill, and clover are mentioned before the monarch finds a “welcome home” on milkweed. But explaining that she needs milkweed on which to lay her eggs is left to the adult sharing the reading experience, and the seasonality of the flowers is jumbled. The colorful blossoms and the monarch’s bright orange-and-black wing pattern stand out against sky-blue backgrounds. Reducing the complex and awe-inspiring process of monarch migration to pretty pictures and sweet words leaves out too much and suggests the topic is best left till readers are older.

Both too complicated and too simple at the same time. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-936669-81-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A pleasant holiday spent with a perfectly charming character.

SPOOKY POOKIE

One of Boynton's signature characters celebrates Halloween.

It's Halloween time, and Pookie the pig is delighted. Mom helps the little porker pick out the perfect Halloween costume, a process that spans the entire board book. Using an abcb rhyme scheme, Boynton dresses Pookie in a series of cheerful costumes, including a dragon, a bunny, and even a caped superhero. Pookie eventually settles on the holiday classic, a ghost, by way of a bedsheet. Boynton sprinkles in amusing asides to her stanzas as Pookie offers costume commentary ("It's itchy"; "It's hot"; "I feel silly"). Little readers will enjoy the notion of transforming themselves with their own Halloween costumes while reading this book, and a few parents may get some ideas as well. Boynton's clean, sharp illustrations are as good as ever. This is Pookie's first holiday title, but readers will surely welcome more.

A pleasant holiday spent with a perfectly charming character. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51233-5

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Robin Corey/Random

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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