A sweet reminder that love is best measured in actions.

TINY T. REX AND THE PERFECT VALENTINE

Even when well-intended plans go awry, sometimes “I love you” is plastered all over one’s face.

Tiny T. Rex wants to make the perfect valentine for friend Pointy, a stegosaurus. It’s a noble ideal, but perfection is more elusive than the little theropod realized. That’s the premise of this charming board book that succinctly celebrates love, friendship, aspiration, perseverance, limitations, and the notion that it’s the thought that counts—especially when it’s clearly reflected in effort. Like its protagonist, this book is small, but it’s rich in value and works on every level. The artwork has an elegant simplicity that beautifully balances color, personality, and clever detail. A panel of Tiny designing the card in chalk on a blackboard, for example, reveals the scale of the little dino’s intentions: a giant heart, ribbons, smaller hearts dangling from springs, heart-shaped balloons, and fireworks, all much larger than Tiny. The project is clearly a labor of love: Tiny sweats, tugging a bucket of paint—“Pointy’s favorite color!”—but the bucket spills on the artist, not the valentine. Trying to make the card “extra fancy,” Tiny is covered in glitter. Tiny rips, snips, and rerips, trying to make the perfect heart; misspells Pointy; and glues springs and hearts all over everything. When Tiny apologizes for having no valentine for Pointy, Pointy recognizes immediately that the perfect valentine is a friend like Tiny.

A sweet reminder that love is best measured in actions. (Board book. 1-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8489-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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