A breezy, rhyming story with competent illustrations but with an unquestioned anthropocentric presentation.


In this picture book, animals at the zoo have a lively night while the zookeeper sleeps.

In singsong, rhyming text, Hutton presents a fanciful story of zoo animals cavorting and carousing instead of going to sleep. And why are the animals not cooperating with bedtime expectations? Because the elderly zookeeper is asleep in bed, complete with eye mask (here’s hoping their leopard-spot design, and that of her curtains, derives from printed fabric and not from actual leopard pelts). Naturally, the animals use this freedom from supervision to party. Young readers will definitely relate. Many types of animals are presented in Hutton’s breezy rhymes, and their behavior is a transparent stand-in for human children’s: “On their beds jump kangaroos. Silly monkeys swinging too.” Cenko’s colorful illustrations, all full-bleed single- or double-page spreads, do a good job of capturing the rambunctious crew with amusing details and without overdone anthropomorphization. There is, however, a certain sameness to the presentation (animals enacting hijinks in spread after spread) that grows old. A bedtime story for children that familiarizes them with animals is a worthy objective, but presenting the notion that animals in zoos are having a wonderful time is a concept that may well not sit right with many readers. Backmatter does, however, present some physiological facts about the animals.

A breezy, rhyming story with competent illustrations but with an unquestioned anthropocentric presentation. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-93666-969-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over.


From the I Can Learn series

Little ones can explore a day in the life of a rubber-covered, audio-enabled tractor.

The “5 noisy parts!” promised on the cover are powered by a battery embedded in the back of the book, the compartment securely screwed shut. Youngsters are prompted by the text to press various parts of the tractor to make interesting sound effects, such as an engine starting then chugging, a horn, and tire noise on muddy or rocky terrain. A large, tractor-shaped die-cut hole in every page allows children to access the vehicle on every double-page spread but leaves the left-hand pages dominated by that tractor-shaped hole. Farm animals make their signature sounds via speech bubble (horses, chicks, and cows, to name a few) along with other critters offering suggestions about which buttons on the tractor to press. For additional play value, a ladybug and a caterpillar can be spotted on every double-page spread. Labels for most of the animals appear in a clear font along with other farm-centric vocabulary words: pitchfork, seedlings, trough. Elliott’s art is busy, but the simple, eye-catching patterns and graphically clean lines in bright colors will appeal to the audience. While this offering is perfect for toddlers, the extensive warnings in the fine print on the back of the book about what may happen if the button battery is swallowed should scare adults into being vigilant. Thankfully, there is an on/off switch allowing for toggling between a quiet and noisy reading experience.

Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-669-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Fun format; bland text.


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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