Sweet and playful, with clear examples of how to share love with friends and family

LITTLE EVA LOVES

Elliott capitalizes on the success of her beginning-reader series Owl Diaries with a new Eva Wingdale story for the board-book audience.

Describing an abstract concept like love for young toddlers is difficult. Too often the concept is reduced to sugary platitudes. In contrast, Eva Wingdale’s straightforward explanation is sweet but far from saccharine. Brief rhyming text on the left paired with pictures of young owl Eva and her friends on the right make the abstract concrete. “I love lending a helping hand” is illustrated by a picture of Eva holding an umbrella for an owl friend. Sharing treats and “big laughs that reach my toes” are fairly easy to illustrate. “Dressing up in silly clothes” doesn’t seem to have much to do with love but is a convenient rhyme while conveying playful camaraderie. Eva is just as colorful and expressive here as in the beginning readers. Her friends and family are as diverse as one might expect from a collection of cartoon owls with bulging owl eyes, spindly owl legs, and bright, almost garish costumes. It takes some searching to identify Eva on each page. Her pink face, her only consistent characteristic, is sometimes obscured by the costume changes on each page. Still, it’s a positive and affirming message about love.

Sweet and playful, with clear examples of how to share love with friends and family . (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-54910-2

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world.

ABCS OF KINDNESS

Rhyming couplets use the alphabet to simply explain the abstract concept of kindness.

Each letter of the alphabet stands for a word that adds nuance to the notion while line drawings of pink-cheeked stuffed animals—bear, bunny, elephant, mouse, lion, and giraffe—illustrate the behavior. The verses hint at exactly how to act kindly. Some are concrete: “Ii is for inviting everyone to play.” Some suggest attitudes that facilitate kindness. For example, “Bb is for believing things will be okay in the end!” and “Hh is for hope—tomorrow’s another day!” While many might take issue with the simplistic assertion that “Ee is for everyone—we are all the same,” taken as a whole, the book will lead even the youngest toddlers to the message. Organizationally, the book devotes one page each to 11 letters while 14 others share pages. “Zz is sleeping peacefully when your day of kindness is through” sprawls across a final double-page spread, showing all the animals fast asleep. Creating an ABC book is harder than this makes it look. The true test is what is chosen to represent Q, X, Y, and Z. “Quiet times,” “Yes I can,” and the aforementioned “zzz”s ably rise to the challenge. “Xx is for kisses” is a bit of a stretch but understandable. Pastel backgrounds, uncluttered design, and unforced rhymes keep the focus on the concept.

Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12307-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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