Just right for little gardeners.

HELLO, GARDEN!

A gentle board book follows two toddlers through a busy day in a backyard garden.

Two unnamed tots stretch and yawn to greet the sunshine and sunflowers outside the bedroom window. These siblings are light-skinned with curly brown hair while their mother is brown-skinned and their bearded father is even paler than the children. The focus throughout is on the natural wonders this interracial family discovers while tending their garden. Detailed drawings add information. The second spread shows a belowground cross section with ant tunnels and dandelion roots—and one child’s bare feet above. Six four-line stanzas use an abcb rhyme scheme. Rhyming fly with high and seed with weed works nicely, but pea and leaf is a bit of a stretch. What is clear is these big-eyed children’s sense of wonder. They willingly “crunch a green bean. / Snap a pea” and even “pluck some kale.” There is whimsy too. A snail almost as big as one of the children also nibbles on the kale, and a mouse chomping a strawberry underground is not bothered by the earthworms that share the soil with carrots. The story ends as it began, with the two children tucked into beds, just like the fruits and vegetables. “Sun sets. / Flowers close tired eyes. // Young plants rest. / Growing tomorrow’s surprise.”

Just right for little gardeners. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: May 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7643-6109-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Schiffer

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read.

THE ABCS OF CHRISTMAS

Little ones are taught their ABCs with Christmas iconography.

A CAT nibbles on a candy cane, and FOXES sing holiday carols, while LANTERNS glow and ORNAMENTS sparkle on festive trees. Christmas is in the air, and so are the letters of the alphabet. Each letter gets a corresponding Christmas illustration, charmingly colored and cozily composed. The easily read text beneath each picture forms rhyming couplets (“GEESE with gumdrops stacked up tall. / HOME is where we deck the halls”), with the key word set in all caps. The imagery mixes spiritual and secular icons side by side: there are baby JESUS, SANTA, the “Three kind KINGS,” and (a little mystifyingly) “UNICORNS donning underwear.” The warm color palette draws little readers in, and the illustrations have a gingerbread-cookie aesthetic, though there is no real attempt to include Christmas traditions such as luminaria from nondominant cultures. The picture that groups a stereotypical Eskimo, an igloo, and some penguins will madden many readers on both cultural and geographical fronts.

A sweet but standard-issue Christmas read. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6125-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside.

EIGHT JOLLY REINDEER

Readers can count down eight of Santa's reindeer as they jump up and out of the scene. 

In each one of the mostly double-page spreads, one reindeer, from Dasher to Blitzen, plays a central role in a winter activity (sledding, ski jumping, ice skating—and soccer and yoga?) that launches the creature into the air. Glitter-speckled tabs, each with small portraits of a member of Santa's herd, appear at either the top or the right side of each page, which little fingers will enjoy flipping. In what looks to be pencil-and-watercolor cartoons, Rogers uses different facial expressions, as well as collars, bows or other accessories, to distinguish the reindeer from one another. Donner (not Donder) and Blitzen are squeezed together on the penultimate spread, likely to keep the page count down. The verse mostly scans, but the rhyme scheme has become the cliché of counting books: "Eight jolly reindeer / stretching up to heaven. / Up goes Dasher / and then there are... // Seven...." Santa, his iconic sleigh and the eight reindeer in flight make a dramatic and required appearance on the book's final double-page spread. 

As with many holiday gifts, the sparkly packaging may interest toddlers more than what’s inside. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-65145-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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