Not a top pick for the giving.

IF I COULD GIVE YOU CHRISTMAS

A reflection on the intangible gifts of the Christmas season.

In a series of spreads depicting anthropomorphic animal parents and their young, simple lines of text starting with the titular line “If I could give you Christmas” lead into statements evoking small pleasures associated with wintertime or the Yuletide season. “If I could give you Christmas, it would taste like the first falling snowflake,” reads the first spread, for example, and a full-bleed digital illustration shows a lynx holding its kitten up in the air to catch a snowflake on its protruding tongue. Later spreads show various animals receiving “the freshest, pointiest, piney-est tree” or “sharing the brightest twinkling star.” Missed opportunities to link these tableaux visually undermine any sense of cohesion, resulting in a book that could have its pages rearranged with no discernable impact on its contents. The concluding lines shift the address to read, “If YOU could give ME Christmas, there’s something you should know…My favorite gift at Christmas… / …doesn’t have a bow,” and there’s a closing image of a bunny and its child hugging. It’s a treacly ending to a sugary sweet book with little substance to distinguish it from scores of other titles on the Christmas book shelf.

Not a top pick for the giving. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-00267-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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Although a bit on the slight side, this offering is infused with a warm, light humor just right for cuddling up with a young...

THE BIGGEST KISS

This title previously published in the U.K. takes a cozy look at all kinds of kisses.

Walsh’s rhyming text is full of cutesy rhythms: “Kisses on noses, kisses on toes-es. Sudden kisses when you least supposes.” Sometimes the phrasing stumbles: “Who likes to kiss? I do! I do! Even the shy do. Why not try, too?” But toddlers and young preschoolers will probably not mind. They will be too engaged in spotting the lively penguin on each spread and too charmed by Abbot’s winsome illustrations that fittingly extend the wording in the story. Patient dogs queue up for a smooch from a frog prince, cool blue “ ’normous elephants” contrast strikingly with bright red “little tiny ants” and a bewildered monkey endures a smattering of lipstick kisses. Be the kiss small or tall, one to start or end the day, young readers are reminded that “the very best kiss… / is a kiss from you!” Perhaps no big surprise but comforting nonetheless.

Although a bit on the slight side, this offering is infused with a warm, light humor just right for cuddling up with a young tyke or sharing with a gathering for storytime.     (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2769-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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