It’s docile and harmless, but there are already better barnyard-themed books available to choose.

ON THE FARM

From the You See, I See series

In rhyming verse, explore a farm alongside an enthusiastic toddler.

This tame board book features a toddler and their (extremely youthful) mother admiring scarecrows, playing with ducklings, and spotting various animals and machinery about the farmyard. Books about a day on the farm are an oft-repeated theme for the board-book crew, and there’s no new ground broken here. Digitally rendered, the loose-lined humans and animals have a breezy, caricaturelike style, but they aren’t imbued with much charm. Stick-figure animals populate the backgrounds, and even animals like baby lambs that should be objectively adorable instead resemble shapeless scribbles. While there are scattered perky pages with contrast and color—a page of bright red apples opposite another of golden honey—a vanilla palette of listless, desaturated colors daubed in patches against stark white pages dominates, making this one bland barnyard. Its narrative has an equally dull sound. Ho-hum rhyming reports what mom and baby spot in an overly singsong rhythm that doesn’t flow effortlessly when read aloud: “You see corn in a row / I see a big scarecrow.” Mom and toddler both present white.

It’s docile and harmless, but there are already better barnyard-themed books available to choose. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1447-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside.

EIGHT JOLLY REINDEER

Readers can count down eight of Santa's reindeer as they jump up and out of the scene. 

In each one of the mostly double-page spreads, one reindeer, from Dasher to Blitzen, plays a central role in a winter activity (sledding, ski jumping, ice skating—and soccer and yoga?) that launches the creature into the air. Glitter-speckled tabs, each with small portraits of a member of Santa's herd, appear at either the top or the right side of each page, which little fingers will enjoy flipping. In what looks to be pencil-and-watercolor cartoons, Rogers uses different facial expressions, as well as collars, bows or other accessories, to distinguish the reindeer from one another. Donner (not Donder) and Blitzen are squeezed together on the penultimate spread, likely to keep the page count down. The verse mostly scans, but the rhyme scheme has become the cliché of counting books: "Eight jolly reindeer / stretching up to heaven. / Up goes Dasher / and then there are... // Seven...." Santa, his iconic sleigh and the eight reindeer in flight make a dramatic and required appearance on the book's final double-page spread. 

As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-65145-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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