Likely a bit more turquoise and abstract than Aesop had in mind, but fantastic visual fun.

THE LION AND THE MICE

From the I Like To Read series

Aesop’s lion and mouse (or mice, as this case has it) have never looked more stylish.

With his massive frame stretched across the page, a wacky-hued lion sleeps. But when a tiny mouse, resplendent in olive-green heels and a tuft of electric-blue fur, finds herself next to the lion, he wakes up. The wry narrator intones (and readers will agree): “Uh-oh.” But true to the fable, the lion lets the mouse go, with the mouse squeaking in reply, “One day I will help you.” (Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the gray bars, which were previously melded into the background design, are now also found in front of the lion). The mouse returns, with the help of many fashion-forward rodent friends, and fits a key into a never-before-seen padlock. The lion is free—presumably from a zoo—and the mice are happy. As an added bonus after the moral is delivered, the lion says “thank you.” Two lessons in one! The story not quite as haut-couture as its art, with chopped sentences and direct exposition that serve its intended audience of beginning readers well, if not elegantly. But the illustrations round everything out, giving context clues and a shift in perspective, zooming back to reveal the complete picture.

Likely a bit more turquoise and abstract than Aesop had in mind, but fantastic visual fun. (Early reader/folktale. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2357-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over.

NOISY TRACTOR

From the I Can Learn series

Little ones can explore a day in the life of a rubber-covered, audio-enabled tractor.

The “5 noisy parts!” promised on the cover are powered by a battery embedded in the back of the book, the compartment securely screwed shut. Youngsters are prompted by the text to press various parts of the tractor to make interesting sound effects, such as an engine starting then chugging, a horn, and tire noise on muddy or rocky terrain. A large, tractor-shaped die-cut hole in every page allows children to access the vehicle on every double-page spread but leaves the left-hand pages dominated by that tractor-shaped hole. Farm animals make their signature sounds via speech bubble (horses, chicks, and cows, to name a few) along with other critters offering suggestions about which buttons on the tractor to press. For additional play value, a ladybug and a caterpillar can be spotted on every double-page spread. Labels for most of the animals appear in a clear font along with other farm-centric vocabulary words: pitchfork, seedlings, trough. Elliott’s art is busy, but the simple, eye-catching patterns and graphically clean lines in bright colors will appeal to the audience. While this offering is perfect for toddlers, the extensive warnings in the fine print on the back of the book about what may happen if the button battery is swallowed should scare adults into being vigilant. Thankfully, there is an on/off switch allowing for toggling between a quiet and noisy reading experience.

Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-669-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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