Around the neighborhood or on a road trip, pre-reading passengers will be ready to understand the signs along the way.

CAUTION! ROAD SIGNS AHEAD

Thirty-five road signs explained to toddlers in an extra-thick board book.

Those ubiquitous universal symbols that decorate our streets and highways can be a mystery to kids buckled into their car seats. Explanations written in simple, direct language aim to demystify them. On the inside front cover and its recto page, a four-sentence introduction explains that signs “are a code to let drivers know how to stay safe.” Bright orange text with key words printed in white stands out against the black background. The signs are organized into five increasingly specialized categories: “Everyday,” “Neighborhood,” “Highway,” “Caution,” and “Nature.” All but eight signs are wordless symbols. A full spread is devoted to each one, with the sign on the right and a brief description in a clean black type on a gray page to the left. To adult ears these definitions seem obvious and even redundant, but explanations like “Yield / Let other cars go first!” are admirably successful at translating abstract concepts into concrete terms. Pages cut in the shapes of the signs both add playful variety and ensure small fingers can turn the thick pages. Clean graphics keep the focus on the signs. The final spread offers thumbnail drawings of all the signs by category.

Around the neighborhood or on a road trip, pre-reading passengers will be ready to understand the signs along the way. (Board book. 1-5)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22432-8

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging.

NOISY DIGGER

From the I Can Learn! series

This noisy board book is designed to thrill tots fascinated with all things construction.

A tactile backhoe digger is center stage on each of the five cutout pages, complete with flaps. Brief rhyming text describes the machine’s actions as it works throughout the day. Animal characters engaged in manual labor or operating other machinery—a bulldozer, crane, road roller, and dump truck—describe more work that goes on at a construction site in small speech bubbles. Finding the mouse in every scene adds to the fun. On each page, a little bird sporting a hard hat invites young builders to press various parts of the silicone digger to activate a range of distinct sounds. The digger’s track pad sounds different from the sound of its arm moving dirt. The problem is that the digger itself is passive; the track pad and arm don’t actually move. The machine stays in the same place on every spread. The caution light beeps but doesn’t light up. Savvy kids will quickly realize that all the sounds are accessible from the first spread without having to turn the pages. The sound is the most engaging part of the book, but with only five sounds, this feature won’t hold most youngsters’ attention for long.

A disappointing twist on a popular theme. More gimmick than engaging. (Novelty board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-684-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Smoother rides are out there.

BUSY STREET

From the Beginner Books series

Mommy and Bonnie—two anthropomorphic rodents—go for a joyride and notice a variety of conveyances around their busy town.

The pair encounter 22 types of vocational vehicles as they pass various sites, including a fire engine leaving a firehouse, a school bus approaching a school, and a tractor trailer delivering goods to a supermarket. Narrated in rhyming quatrains, the book describes the jobs that each wheeled machine does. The text uses simple vocabulary and sentences, with sight words aplenty. Some of the rhymes don't scan as well as others, and the description of the mail truck’s role ("A mail truck brings / letters and cards / to mailboxes / in people's yards) ignores millions of readers living in yardless dwellings. The colorful digitally illustrated spreads are crowded with animal characters of every type hustling and bustling about. Although the art is busy, observant viewers may find humor in details such as a fragile item falling out of a moving truck, a line of ducks holding up traffic, and a squirrel’s spilled ice cream. For younger children enthralled by vehicles, Sally Sutton’s Roadwork (2011) and Elizabeth Verdick’s Small Walt series provide superior text and art and kinder humor. Children who have little interest in cars, trucks, and construction equipment may find this offering a yawner. Despite being advertised as a beginner book, neither text nor art recommend this as an engaging choice for children starting to read independently. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Smoother rides are out there. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-37725-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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