While the writing is not as whimsical as in predecessors Cuddly Cow and Higgly Hen (both 2017), the prospect of pushing...

PORTLY PIG

From the Farm Friends Sound Book series

Portly Pig is much too clean and searches for the perfect muddy pool.

He soon discovers a good patch in the corner of a field and makes himself sufficiently dirty. When a brief rainstorm washes him clean, he quickly heads back to this new favorite spot to muck himself up all over again. While the story is slight, the key attraction is the large blue button/speaker on the cover that’s accessible on every page through a die-cut circle. When pushed, it activates a sound chip that produces realistic pig grunts and barnyard bird song. Scheffler uses richly colored gouache and a bold black outline to create playful and expressive farm critters, all with the artist’s signature circular, bulgy eyes. Each one-page scene is paired with a quatrain on a solid background on the opposite page to relay the simple tale. In the companion title, Gobbly Goat, the title character searches for something yummy to eat until he spies a bowl of strawberries and cream inside a farmhouse. He promptly breaks in, devours the treat, and eats the flowers in a vase as well. This offering in the series also employs a large button that bleats realistically when pushed. A button battery is secured behind a plastic panel in the back cover and can be accessed or replaced only with a tiny Phillips screwdriver.

While the writing is not as whimsical as in predecessors Cuddly Cow and Higgly Hen (both 2017), the prospect of pushing buttons will make this a toddler crowd pleaser. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9621-4

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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