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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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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A satisfying friendship story to share with very young children in the days leading up to Halloween.

TEENY TINY GHOST

This board book twists the traditional “Teeny Tiny” tale into a less-scary Halloween treat.

This version uses a singsong-y rhythm and cadence to tell the story. “In the teeny tiny barn / Of a teeny tiny house... / Lived a teeny tiny ghost / and a teeny tiny mouse.” Of course the ghost (being teeny tiny) is not very frightening. “But the determined little ghost / Let her mighty courage through / And with a teeny tiny breath / She said a teeny tiny: boo.” Spoiler alert: After just seven page turns the ghost and mouse become friends: “And now the teeny tinies play / In the teeny tiny house. / Just a teeny tiny ghost / And her best friend, mouse.” Pumpkins decorate the cover and final spread and illustrations throughout are in autumnal hues. The fairly high-for-the-format word count—19 to 21 words per page—may be more than toddlers will sit still for, but the “teeny tiny” repetition and rhymes will help. The size (just 6 inches square) makes using the book with a group a challenge, but with a lap-sitting child, it’ll be a pleasure.

A satisfying friendship story to share with very young children in the days leading up to Halloween. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31848-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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