Don’t expect kids to pause to identify the mischief-makers or talk about the pictures, at least at first—do expect a request...

IT'S NOT THE PUPPY

The big-eyed pup on the cover of this board book is obviously a scamp and quite possibly to blame for all sorts of mayhem—or maybe not.

Each page shows a different character engaged in some activity, often mischievous, that might be expected from a dog, but the picture and text clearly indicate otherwise. The actual culprits are not named, and not all are animals. They include a bunny, raccoon, cat, and three children. Young children will quickly pick up the refrain, “It’s not the puppy?”—the proper response to the unobtrusively rhyming question posed on each left-hand page. The language is clear and direct: “When he waves his furry tail, / who knocks down the garbage pail?” The lively, cartoon illustrations include plenty of related details—flowers in the garden where the bunny digs, flies buzzing around the garbage can a raccoon has raided. Unfortunately, the pictures of children tend to reinforce gender stereotypes with what appears to be boys having active roles—tracking in mud while chasing a ball and practicing “doggy paddles in the tub.” The only child textually identified by gender is a girl hiding from thunder. The final picture is of another, less-fearful pigtailed child waking to “a big wet kiss surprise… / it IS the puppy!” All children depicted have brown skin and curly black hair.

Don’t expect kids to pause to identify the mischief-makers or talk about the pictures, at least at first—do expect a request to “read it again.” (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68152-409-2

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Amicus Ink

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver.

EEK! HALLOWEEN!

The farmyard's chickens experience Halloween.

A round, full moon shines in the sky, and the chickens of Boynton's barnyard are feeling “nervous.” Pumpkins shine “with flickering eyes,” witches and wizards wander the pastures, and one chicken has seen “a mouse of enormous size.” It’s Halloween night, and readers will delight as the chickens huddle together and try to figure out what's going on. All ends well, of course, and in Boynton's trademark silly style. (It’s really quite remarkable how her ranks of white, yellow-beaked chickens evoke rows of candy corn.) At this point parents and children know what they're in for when they pick up a book by the prolific author, and she doesn't disappoint here. The chickens are silly, the pigs are cute, and the coloring and illustrations evoke a warmth that little ones wary of Halloween will appreciate. For children leery of the ghouls and goblins lurking in the holiday's iconography, this is a perfect antidote, emphasizing all the fun Halloween has to offer.

An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-9300-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Specific visuals ground this sweet celebration of simple pleasures.

MY HEART FILLS WITH HAPPINESS

Black-haired, brown-skinned children describe many sources of happiness in this board book, dedicated by the author to “former Indian Residential School students.”

“My heart fills with happiness when… / I see the face of someone I love // I smell bannock baking in the oven / I sing.” Author Smith, who is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish-Canadian, infuses her simple text with the occasional detail that bespeaks her First Nations heritage even as she celebrates universal pleasures. In addition to the smell of bannock, the narrator delights in dancing, listening to stories, and drumming. Cree-Métis artist Flett introduces visual details that further underscore this heritage, as in the moccasins, shawl, and braids worn by the dancing child and the drum and drumsticks wielded by the adult and toddler who lovingly make music together. (The “I drum” spread is repeated immediately, possibly to emphasize its importance, a detail that may disorient readers expecting a different scene.) Although the narrative voice is consistent, the children depicted change, which readers will note by hairstyle, dress, and relative age. The bannock bakes in a modern kitchen, and most of the clothing is likewise Western, emphasizing that these Native Americans are contemporary children. There is nothing in the text that specifically identifies them by nation, however.

Specific visuals ground this sweet celebration of simple pleasures. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0957-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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