Appealing characters, novel presentation, and useful concepts—a winner! (Board book. 1-3)


From the Zoe and Zack series

A clever introduction to the concept of opposites for the board-book set.

Clear, simple drawings and the ingenious use of die-cut pages illustrate several paired, contrary concepts. Zoe, a zebra, and her friend Zack, a chameleon, introduce readers to a series of geographical, physical, and emotional antipodes. On the first two pages, the two friends run down parallel sets of stairs; turn the page with the die-cut staircase, and those very same images of Zoe and Zack appear to be bounding up the stairs. In the next spread, Zoe and Zack sit sadly, watching a caged bird. Turn the die-cut page, and the bars of the cage become the stems of flowers, as the bird flies free to the obvious delight of the now-happy friends. Readers will easily grasp the contrasted concepts, although not all of the words are exact antonyms. “Happy” is paired with “sad” and also with “angry.” A castle is “knocked down,” rather than broken, and then “fixed.” The book was originally published in French; some of the featured terms may have been more obvious opposites prior to (the uncredited) translation. Perhaps the weakest pairing is “upset” and “not upset anymore,” although the expression of opposites through negation is a useful, age-appropriate construction, and the meaning, expressed in terms of lost ice cream and the palliative power of sharing, couldn’t be clearer.

Appealing characters, novel presentation, and useful concepts—a winner! (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-74708-700-1

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A fun, new take on droppings.


Youngsters can learn about where and how various animals, domestic and wild, relieve themselves.

Via a pull-tab embedded in each recto (not, thankfully, in the rectum) readers can see the before and after, and a goldfish in a bowl leaves a trail while swimming. The verso asks each creature where it does its business, and then a (sometimes-forced) rhyming quatrain, translated from Italian, answers the question: “And where do YOU poop, mouse? / When inside my tummy / Starts to feel not so good / It’s time for a poop / On these chips made of wood!” The final double-page spread queries readers: “And where do YOU poop?” A redheaded, White toddler’s face is visible below this question; the pull-tab on the right opens a bathroom to reveal a White toddler, this time with medium brown hair, happily and modestly sitting on a blue toddler potty. The accompanying quatrain provides some developmentally appropriate guidance for feeling the signs of a movement coming on. Baruzzi’s art is droll and graphically clean (inasmuch as the depiction of excrement can be described that way). Little fingers may need some help finding the relatively easy-to-open and sturdy pull-tabs, since they blend into each page. It works as both a biology lesson and potty-training encouragement.  

A fun, new take on droppings. (Novelty board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66265-042-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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The titular words are divided by topic with animals participating along the way.

This board book reads exactly as expected. Common “first words” are organized into thematic sections like “toys and games,” “at the park,” and “things that go.” Wide-eyed animals are shown riding on a bus, using the potty, and talking on a cellphone (labeled telephone). All of the scenes and words are fairly predictable, making it familiar to toddlers but not necessarily exposing them to new vocabulary unless this is truly the first of its ilk they are reading. The “parts of the body” pages use three monkeys to demonstrate those parts, omitting tail, ears, and facial features. The choice of monkey rather than human models is an odd one, since this book is meant for very young learners just beginning to name and identify these parts of their own bodies. The “things that go” spread is the most visually interesting—possibly overstimulating for younger readers. There is plenty for caregivers to talk about with children here, in contrast to the bare-bones “clothes” spread, for example. The illustrations are cutesy and two-dimensional. This makes the pictures easy to identify, but it also means they lack detail and complexity. Sturdy and sized for small hands, this book does indeed present 100 words but offers little to make it stand out among the many other similar titles already on shelves.

Does the job. (Board book. 1-2)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68010-687-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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