Engaging, rewarding, and utterly delightful.

COUNTING CREATURES

Readers count from one to 10 and then jump from there to 15, 20, and 25 in this picture book featuring creatures in the wild.

Animals and their babies take the stage in this paper-engineered tale that allows young readers to make surprise discoveries. On the first spread, they meet a bat. Lift up the precisely die-cut bat’s wing to see “1 baby / Holding on tight as they fly through the night.” Page turns are propelled by the query that concludes each and every spread: “Who has more babies than that?” Continuing to count upward, readers meet leopard cubs, owlets, fox kits, leverets, caterpillars, and many more animals. Creatively designed flaps and die cuts, as well as pages with nontraditional trims, invite young hands to lift, peek, and search: Lift leaf-shaped flaps to see “8 baby mice”; peek through tree-trunk–shaped die cuts to see a forest with “15 poults”; and turn pages shaped like verdant hills to see “2 lambs.” The rhymes are unfussy, pleasingly rhythmic, and have unfailingly flawless meter (“9 ducklings / Swimming and snacking, / Practicing quacking”). Richly colored illustrations in vivid crimson, sapphire, marble green, and copper hues feature realistic animals in their natural habitats, though most are given sleek, wide, stylized eyes. The final spread throws readers a curveball with “LOTS of spiderlings,” depicted as die-cut holes with eight legs each on the previous page—and, it turns out, many of the pages before that.

Engaging, rewarding, and utterly delightful. (Picture book/novelty. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-32453-0

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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A funny but touching story about learning to accept who you are.

LOVEBIRD LOU

A green lovebird—green with envy—wants more than he can have.

All his life, Lou, a lovable young lovebird, has known little of the world beyond his doting flock and the corner of the beautiful island they call home. Then one day, he visits the other side of the island and discovers many other wonderful birds, from pelicans to flamingos to nightingales. Lou observes that each species has a unique and amazing gift, so much so that being a lovebird seems to pale in comparison. Desiring to be extraordinary, Lou attempts to learn the various skills of the feathered race. His efforts prove to be flat failures, and the other bird breeds watch on in dismay, but his fellow lovebirds enthusiastically praise him for his efforts. “We love you, Lou!” they squawk at every turn. Still, Lou grows frustrated and decides that being a bird is not for him. After a disastrous last-ditch attempt to transcend his perceived ordinariness, Lou finds himself lonely and discouraged and realizes that being loved is the best gift of all. This entertaining picture book would be a wonderful read-aloud and discussion starter for early grade schoolers. The bright and colorful illustrations sparkle with humor, and many young readers will readily identify with Lou’s identity crisis.

A funny but touching story about learning to accept who you are. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-45494-188-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling Children's Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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