From the Big Kid Power series

A little book about a big step in becoming a big kid.

The latest installment in van Lieshout’s Big Kid Power series offers encouragement for young readers making the transition from sleeping in a crib to sleeping in a “big bed.” The first-person narration (from the child’s perspective) describes how when they were little “I slept a lot…. And I slept anywhere.” The digitally created illustrations depict a two-parent family with brown skin and tightly curled black hair, the baby snoozing in a snuggly, a car seat, a stroller, and a crib—but now, “BIG KIDS SLEEP IN A BIG BED!” The narrator describes a bedtime routine that could take place with any sleeping arrangement. It includes books, kisses and hugs from caregivers, and snuggling with a “lovey.” The text then details the child’s emotional adjustment to sleeping in a big bed, with a central spread depicting their fears upon waking up in the middle of the night: “This bed is VERY BIG! Where am I? Where is my crib? What if my lovey falls out?” These worries are quickly assuaged with the next page turn, not by having parents reappear to soothe their little one, but with the child snuggling their “lovey” as they “cuddle up under the blankets…and go back to sleep.” While this independent, easy resolution may seem unrealistic to some, it offers an aspirational turn toward independence for young readers who might struggle in making this transition.

Sweet dreams, big kid. (Picture book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6290-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Specific visuals ground this sweet celebration of simple pleasures.


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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Another branded entry that offers little beyond the minimum requirements.


From the Pout-Pout Fish Mini Adventure series

The Pout-Pout Fish brand expands.

Halloween is here, and Mr. Pout-Pout Fish is giving out treats from his submarine home. Those familiar with the blue striped fish will find the usual uncluttered illustrations and rhyming scheme (“Who’s at the helm / of the spooky submarine? // It’s you, Mr. Fish! / Have a happy Halloween!”). New readers may be drawn in by the colorful costumes the various fish wear as they trick-or-treat along the ocean floor. Keen-eyed readers with some pumpkin-carving experience may wonder how a jack-o’-lantern can be lit under water. This board book is a fairly standard look at Halloween, putting a popular character in common holiday trappings and adding nothing else. Fans of the holiday will have to look elsewhere for a more exciting take on Halloween’s thrills.

Another branded entry that offers little beyond the minimum requirements. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30191-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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