Though the book’s flaps are overambitious, horse lovers will be champing at the bit to meet these new farm friends

HORSE TALES

From the Double Booked! series

Meet various horses and hear their stories in this lift-the-flap ode to all things equine.

Cut into a barn shape, this board book splits down the middle so that the barn doors open outward. On each side is a stall with door-shaped flaps. Through brief, somewhat stiff biographies, readers meet 12 of the (fictional) horses with surprisingly variant stories, from Clyde the firefighter to Biscuit, the itty-bitty pony who prides in taking children “on their first ride.” Each stall displays eclectic paraphernalia that reflects the horse’s particular backstory. Circus horse Nutmeg’s stall showcases fancy feathers, framed photos of her glory days, and lift-the-flap stall doors painted in circus tent stripes that reveal Nutmeg herself, prancing and costumed. Though there’s no plot, there’s a cozy summation as readers meet new mother Maple on the final page, ruminating about which path her own tiny foal might take. Quaint, pastel-colored illustrations feel as though they might be stills from a vintage animated film. All of this warmth however, is reined in by the unwieldy design. Though the cover proudly proclaims “26 lift-the-flaps inside!” it’s too many to comfortably read with a lap-sit child, with flaps flying open unexpectedly and making it difficult to see the sweet horses in their entirety.

Though the book’s flaps are overambitious, horse lovers will be champing at the bit to meet these new farm friends . (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7088-6

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.

FIVE BLACK CATS

A troop of cats traverse a spooky landscape as they make their way to a party hosted by ghosts.

Each double-page spread shows the felines’ encounters with the likes of an owl, jack-o’-lanterns or a bat. One or two of these creepy meetings may be too abstract for the youngest readers, as the cats hear eerie noises with no discernible source on the page. The text, which consists of one rhyming couplet per scene, mostly scans despite a couple of wobbles: “Five black cats get a bit of a scare / As the flip-flapping wings of a bat fill the air.” The sleek, slightly retro art, likely created using a computer, depicts the cats cavorting at night through a shadowy cityscape, the countryside and a haunted house; they may scare some toddlers and delight others. A brighter color palette would have given the project a friendlier, more universal appeal. Luckily, the well-lit, final party scene provides a playful conclusion.

For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-611-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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