Quay’s striking illustrations cannot rescue this one.

BABY BEDTIME

A beautifully rendered, anthropomorphic elephant tenderly (sort of) puts a pachyderm child to bed.

The first four sets of pages feature large, bold, purple words on the verso and charmingly smudgy pastel-and-collage artwork on the recto. The initial phrase, “I could eat your little ears,” is set opposite a watercolor adult elephant wearing a patterned bathrobe and affectionately embracing a baby elephant. The background is a tastefully decorated room, including a lacy chair holding a thumbed-through (or perhaps trunked-through) book. Established, the pattern follows with this banal-at-best and alarming-at-worst text: “I could nibble on your nose. / I could munch your tiny fingers. / I could gobble up your toes.” The pastel purple and gold artwork mesmerizes, as the adult elephant tenderly hoists the baby and proceeds to carry it upstairs toward the bedroom. The text then mentions numerous other possible, now-gentle actions by the adult elephant, as in “I could sing you all the songs that my mother sang to me.” Eventually, the rhyming text reaches the expected conclusion, with the adult elephant gently kissing the babe, laid in a bassinet, to sleep. Though it is eminently clear that this child is not about to become supper, the cannibalistic opening quatrain followed by a gushingly affectionate outpouring makes for a book that only a certain type of grandparent could read aloud to a very young grandchild.

Quay’s striking illustrations cannot rescue this one. (Picture book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2097-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

THE ABCS OF LOVE

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver.

EEK! HALLOWEEN!

The farmyard's chickens experience Halloween.

A round, full moon shines in the sky, and the chickens of Boynton's barnyard are feeling “nervous.” Pumpkins shine “with flickering eyes,” witches and wizards wander the pastures, and one chicken has seen “a mouse of enormous size.” It’s Halloween night, and readers will delight as the chickens huddle together and try to figure out what's going on. All ends well, of course, and in Boynton's trademark silly style. (It’s really quite remarkable how her ranks of white, yellow-beaked chickens evoke rows of candy corn.) At this point parents and children know what they're in for when they pick up a book by the prolific author, and she doesn't disappoint here. The chickens are silly, the pigs are cute, and the coloring and illustrations evoke a warmth that little ones wary of Halloween will appreciate. For children leery of the ghouls and goblins lurking in the holiday's iconography, this is a perfect antidote, emphasizing all the fun Halloween has to offer.

An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-9300-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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