Not the strongest choice in terms of either shape learning or reflecting nature; still, this may get readers outside in...

WALTER'S WONDERFUL WEB

A spider with no talent for making traditional spider webs teaches young children about shapes as well as perseverance.

Walter’s “wibbly-wobbly” webs are always blowing away in the wind; he can’t seem to manage the perfect spider webs his friends weave. One day, he decides he will manage to make a web that doesn’t blow away. In turn, he spins webs in the shape of a triangle, a square, a rectangle, a diamond, and a circle. All blow away. Discouraged, Walter’s almost ready to give up. But then he thinks back on all the shapes he’s spun and realizes what the perfect web would look like. While his ultimate web is more fantasy than a reflection of real spiders’ work, it does provide good practice for young children in pointing out the various shapes that make it up. A final spread asks readers to identify the five shapes and count their sides. Hopgood’s spider is a delightful black scribbled ball with eight legs, tall oval eyes, and a simple upturned-line mouth. Frustratingly, though, readers will not be able to point to any reason as to why the shaped webs keep blowing away and why the marvelous final web will be any different.

Not the strongest choice in terms of either shape learning or reflecting nature; still, this may get readers outside in search of webs. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30352-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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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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