Substitute any of the more realistic and genuinely engaging introductions to preschool routines that are available.

ART BARN

From the Noah's Park series

Busy art featuring cartoonish stuffed animals introduces young children to typical preschool activities in whimsical Noah's Park, a sort of combination theme park and preschool.

The flow of the rhyming text is sacrificed to heavy-handed attempts at fun. “All aboard! Can’t wait to start. / Chugga Chuff, Chugga Chuff… / It’s time to make art,” reads the text as a train carries these tots to the titular art barn. On subsequent pages, Williams rhymes “smocks” with “drops” and “shapes” with “make.” Incredibly, without any adult supervision, these toddlers remember to don paint smocks and succeed in painting pictures of the train. A most important part of the preschool experience, the guidance of a loving, supportive teacher, is entirely missing. Instead these toddler surrogates function independently and cooperatively, well beyond their developmental ages. Ending nearly every other sentence with an exclamation point and repeated use of the word “hooray” are not enough to make Noah's Park exciting. Jungle Gym (published simultaneously) follows the same formula, even repeating the opening text. A single gatefold on the second page that opens to reveal the destination of the troupe in each book scuttles any element of surprise. Snack Time (available in September) promises more of the same.

Substitute any of the more realistic and genuinely engaging introductions to preschool routines that are available. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4259-6

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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