A well-constructed toy book, though its narrative might leave readers with mixed feelings.

FEELINGS

From the Pull and Play series

In this French import, little animals experience big emotions, but by talking about feelings and with a little help from a pull-tab, the situations turn around.

Depicting familiar problems that will resonate with a toddler audience, each illustration uses a sturdy pull-tab to transition from the child’s dilemma to the resolution. Adult characters nicely model helping children navigate emotional moments, with one particularly successful page showing a small bear clinging to his mother, frightened of a dog. Mommy coaxes him forward, and with a pull of the tab, readers see the bear comfortably greeting the pup; it’s a gratifyingly presented miniature drama. Excellent pages, though, share the book with ho-hum ones: An “excited” little monkey’s only action is packing his backpack, an underwhelming visual change, and a toddler kangaroo (that looks a lot like a bunny) declaring himself “disgusted” seems like a linguistic stretch. Children will enjoy the tabs, which are seamless in their transition from scene to scene. Vintage 1970s-inspired cartoon animals have dramatic faces that clearly inform readers how they feel, though the animals lean closer to quirky than cute. At times, the translation feels stiff, and the dialogue’s reliance on treacly pet names—not to mention the downright cloying ending of “I love ice cream, Daddy! But I love you more”—seems contrived.

A well-constructed toy book, though its narrative might leave readers with mixed feelings. (Board book. 18 mos.-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40800-792-8

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world.

ABCS OF KINDNESS

Rhyming couplets use the alphabet to simply explain the abstract concept of kindness.

Each letter of the alphabet stands for a word that adds nuance to the notion while line drawings of pink-cheeked stuffed animals—bear, bunny, elephant, mouse, lion, and giraffe—illustrate the behavior. The verses hint at exactly how to act kindly. Some are concrete: “Ii is for inviting everyone to play.” Some suggest attitudes that facilitate kindness. For example, “Bb is for believing things will be okay in the end!” and “Hh is for hope—tomorrow’s another day!” While many might take issue with the simplistic assertion that “Ee is for everyone—we are all the same,” taken as a whole, the book will lead even the youngest toddlers to the message. Organizationally, the book devotes one page each to 11 letters while 14 others share pages. “Zz is sleeping peacefully when your day of kindness is through” sprawls across a final double-page spread, showing all the animals fast asleep. Creating an ABC book is harder than this makes it look. The true test is what is chosen to represent Q, X, Y, and Z. “Quiet times,” “Yes I can,” and the aforementioned “zzz”s ably rise to the challenge. “Xx is for kisses” is a bit of a stretch but understandable. Pastel backgrounds, uncluttered design, and unforced rhymes keep the focus on the concept.

Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12307-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF 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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