A basic introduction to nature exploration that’s nice enough but nothing remarkable.


From the Maisy First Experiences series

From the undersides of logs to the tops of trees, Maisy and her friends explore nature at a park.

Cousins’ popular character, the white mouse Maisy, is on an outdoor adventure in this new addition to the Maisy First Experiences series. She and her friends—Tallulah the chick, Charley the crocodile, Cyril the squirrel, and Eddie the elephant—visit a pond and build a fort, then end their day with a picnic. Cousins’ appealing illustrations feature the bold colors and heavy black lines that have become a trademark of her Maisy books. The text invites reader participation, asking questions like “Who can you see?” to encourage children to look for animals in a woodland scene. Children will want to linger on certain pages, looking at all of the critters that fill the pond and the insects hiding beneath logs and leaves. None of the organisms are labeled, which may disappoint some readers, and a few of them—like a blue beetle-looking bug—can be ambiguous. For adults seeking books that show children how to explore nature respectfully, this doesn’t fit the bill: Tallulah picks daisies, and the fauna are not left undisturbed, both of which are generally frowned upon in nature parks where observation only is key. That said, this succeeds as a picture book that positively encourages adventuring in the great outdoors. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A basic introduction to nature exploration that’s nice enough but nothing remarkable. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2424-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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