Children learn gender stereotypes soon enough. No need to rush the process.



Pinkalicious spreads her message to the board-book set.

And it is relentless. “One wand, “two teacups,” and “three teddy bears” set a stereotypically girly stage. There is the occasional feeble attempt to counteract this, but inserting a few “boy toys” among all the Pinkalicious paraphernalia is jarring, not egalitarian. A brown basketball, green tennis ball, and white baseball with five otherwise pastel balls feel out of place. Six of the “ten toys” are typically associated with boys (though the airplane is pink), but then the book reverts to theme with a heart-shaped constellation of 11 stars, followed by passive pages of candy, butterflies, snowflakes, seashells, hearts, etc. (Yes, our heroine is shown climbing a precarious stack of furniture to reach pink cupcakes on top of a refrigerator, but that's not the kind of spunk most parents want their little darlings—whatever their genders—to emulate.) Pinkalicious ABC, published simultaneously, includes a scant handful of boys in three pictures. The only other male is a surly-looking man (dad?) hiding behind the Pinkville “newspaper” opposite a doting “M is for Mommy.”

Children learn gender stereotypes soon enough. No need to rush the process. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-243757-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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An amusing and lively read that celebrates a venerable literary form.


A bear desperate to hibernate seeks refuge from neighbors.

A big brown bear is dressed in pajamas and ready to turn in for winter when suddenly: “KNOCK KNOCK.” “Who’s there?” asks the bear. “Justin the neighborhood and thought I'd stop by!” responds a fox bearing an arm full of firewood, and thus begins a series of knock-knock jokes that brings more and more woodland neighbors into the bear’s home. The bear grows increasingly frustrated as the illustrations grow ever more frantic, the compositions filled with animals bearing party supplies, food, and gifts. Eventually it is revealed that the bear’s neighbors are merely wishing their friend a safe and happy hibernation, and readers as well as the grouchy bear will find their hearts warming as a tiny chipmunk embraces its leg, proclaiming, “Al miss you all winter long.” Little readers will enjoy the narrative Sauer builds on these knock-knock jokes, and the repetition of the format will encourage them to create some of their own. The dynamic illustrations pop with color and noise, juxtaposing nicely with the bear in PJs who’s clearly desperate for some shut-eye. The end goal of sleep makes this a nice bedtime read-aloud, particularly for little readers who may be resisting the end of the day, even as the giant, red “KNOCK KNOCK”s encourage raucous storytime participation.

An amusing and lively read that celebrates a venerable literary form. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-11694-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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It’s all very obvious, but there’s no harm in harping on kindness.



An alphabet book featuring different ways to be kind.

This oversized board book takes a walk through the alphabet and hits on most of the obvious ways in which children can be kind to one another, themselves, and the planet. Berger’s simple text includes both small acts, like “Brightening someone’s day with a smile,” and larger ones, such as “Standing up for someone when no one else will.” The text is direct, without any poetry or flourish, so it reads a bit like an encyclopedia. The acts of kindness feel attainable for young readers, and Trukhan’s illustrations offer practical examples: One child gives up their spot in line for the slide; another makes room at the lunch table. Trukhan’s illustrations are reminiscent of Byron Barton’s, featuring bold, block colors and geometric foundations. The book is inclusive of people with many different skin and hair colors, and it also depicts one child with a cochlear implant and another who walks with forearm crutches. Trukhan’s companion title, Kindess Counts 123, with text by R.A. Strong, echoes both this title’s theme and its inclusivity. While none of the content in either book is particularly revelatory, it is still meaningful and nicely presented.

It’s all very obvious, but there’s no harm in harping on kindness. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-651-3

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Highlights Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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