Illustrations make this lyrical tale of the Indian jungle really shine.

RUM PUM PUM

Deep in an Indian jungle, a lonely tiger longs for friends.

Although he claims to be friendly, Tiger’s sharp claws, huge teeth, and fearsome growl scare off his fellow creatures. All this changes when Tiger discovers a drum left beneath a sal tree. Tiger doesn’t know what the drum is—it’s a human invention, after all—but notices that when he taps it with his tail, it makes a delightful rum pum pum sound. Carrying his new, rhythmic “friend” with him, Tiger wanders through the forest. Before long, the drum’s rum pum pum attracts a monkey, a rhinoceros, a parrot, a chameleon, and an elephant, all of whom layer their own, distinctive sounds over the beat of Tiger’s drum. The group walks along happily for a time, but the company threatens to disintegrate when the animals fight over Tiger’s drum. Luckily, at just the right moment, a young boy steps into the fray and, with the help of some drumming, saves the day. The book’s earth-toned illustrations are stunning: Each page is packed with movement and atmosphere, and the characters’ faces are wonderfully expressive. The text is poetic, rhythmic, and, at times, humorous. While the story arc feels underdeveloped—it is not clear how the animals walking together created the deep friendship referenced on the book’s final page or how the Tiger’s drumming cured the animals’ fear of him—the language is a pleasure to read aloud. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 71% of actual size.)

Illustrations make this lyrical tale of the Indian jungle really shine. (authors’ note, websites) (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4100-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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