Affirming for Jewish readers and useful for those who feel at sea about Passover.



From the Pout-Pout Fish series

Dive in and learn about an important Jewish holiday in the latest undersea outing from the author of the Pout-Pout Fish series.

Mr. Fish has been invited to celebrate Passover with his friend Miss Shimmer and her family. The day before the holiday, Mr. Fish offers to babysit Miss Shimmer’s niece and nephew while she goes shopping for dinner ingredients. He and the fry clean the house (apparently a coral cave) of chametz crumbs, turning the task into a fun Passover treasure hunt, before Miss Shimmer's elderly parents arrive bearing Haggadahs and special Passover tableware. Then Miss Shimmer returns and Mr. Fish helps her cook the Passover meal. The following night, at the seder, the Shimmers educate Mr. Fish about the history of Passover and the holiday’s traditions, from the symbolic foods on the seder plate to the hiding of the afikomen and more. Children attending their first Passover seder may find the ritual a little easier to understand after reading this book, but some details don’t add up; for example, how do the piscine characters perform the ritual of dipping spring vegetables in salt water when their whole world is salt water? The text sometimes feels too didactic, but occasionally there is a striking turn of phrase, such as when the Haggadah is poetically described as a “treasure map.” Hanna’s cheerful cartoony illustrations are functional.

Affirming for Jewish readers and useful for those who feel at sea about Passover. (stickers) (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-38905-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.


From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.


You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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