This bumpy goodnight journey won’t likely lead to golden slumbers. (Picture book. 3-5)

GOODNIGHT WORLD

A rhyming journey around a child’s world just before bedtime.

Swooping, colorful motifs on each spread and lilting couplets invite the familiar practice of bidding goodnight to vehicles, flowers, and animals big and small that later appear as toys in a child’s bedroom. Beginning in the stratosphere, the story tours various ecological habitats before landing at last in the bedroom of a white child whose parents are settling down for bed. Unfortunately, the book’s artwork falls short of lulling readers. Importantly, penguins and sea lions are more likely to be found in the Antarctic than the Arctic, as implied here. Disjointed organization transports readers from oceans under northern lights to trains and rocket ships, from birds, bees, and deep-sea fish to a sleepy zoo. Inconsistent scale and proportion pose further problems. What looks like a young white girl walking a dog outside soon disappears, while inside the house a few page turns later is a white woman reaching for the child (perhaps she is mother?), with the same dog curled up nearby. Additionally, the text, though at times endearing (“Goodnight lights above, aglow”), at other times hiccups a bit (“Goodnight moon, goodnight sun. / Goodnight, goodnight, to everyone”). Uneven meter and unclear meaning interrupt an otherwise soothing read-aloud.

This bumpy goodnight journey won’t likely lead to golden slumbers. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-363-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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