The positive-affirmation message is muddled, but it still makes the cut.

MR. LION'S NEW HAIR!

From the Mr. Lion series

In this French import, Monkey steps in as hairstylist, with some very silly results.

Even the king of the beasts can have bad hair days! When Mr. Lion shows up, leaves and twigs tangled in his mane, Monkey insists it’s time for a wash, a blow-dry—and a new look. Designed with a die cut in the shape of Mr. Lion’s face beginning on the cover and running through to all but the last page, the book allows each page turn to show Mr. Lion modeling a different ’do. Among the creative collection of styles are perky pigtails, flowing tresses, a bold blond dye job and then an even bolder red, a crown and tiara on a towering beehive, and an “elegant,” severe gray number, each style more unexpected than the last. Lean art on roomy white backgrounds keeps the focus on the silly locks and Monkey’s antics, whose face is as expressive as Lion’s is frozen and skeptical. Deeply mottled and layered illustrations show Lion striking a series of colorful if often chagrined poses, and some readers might be relieved when Monkey finally proclaims that the bells and whistles aren’t needed; Mr. Lion’s hair is “best just the way it is!” While the message of accepting one’s own beauty is refreshing, that Mr. Lion’s face still seems uncertain somewhat undermines that theme.

The positive-affirmation message is muddled, but it still makes the cut. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 979-1-0363-2861-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over.

NOISY TRACTOR

From the I Can Learn series

Little ones can explore a day in the life of a rubber-covered, audio-enabled tractor.

The “5 noisy parts!” promised on the cover are powered by a battery embedded in the back of the book, the compartment securely screwed shut. Youngsters are prompted by the text to press various parts of the tractor to make interesting sound effects, such as an engine starting then chugging, a horn, and tire noise on muddy or rocky terrain. A large, tractor-shaped die-cut hole in every page allows children to access the vehicle on every double-page spread but leaves the left-hand pages dominated by that tractor-shaped hole. Farm animals make their signature sounds via speech bubble (horses, chicks, and cows, to name a few) along with other critters offering suggestions about which buttons on the tractor to press. For additional play value, a ladybug and a caterpillar can be spotted on every double-page spread. Labels for most of the animals appear in a clear font along with other farm-centric vocabulary words: pitchfork, seedlings, trough. Elliott’s art is busy, but the simple, eye-catching patterns and graphically clean lines in bright colors will appeal to the audience. While this offering is perfect for toddlers, the extensive warnings in the fine print on the back of the book about what may happen if the button battery is swallowed should scare adults into being vigilant. Thankfully, there is an on/off switch allowing for toggling between a quiet and noisy reading experience.

Grown-ups be warned: Young fingers will delight in pressing the tractor’s buttons (and yours!) over and over. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-669-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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