Charming illustrations with a simple story that resonates.

ON BABA'S BACK

Koalas Koko and Baba are always together until one day Koko ventures off alone.

Much like their human child-caregiver counterparts, little Koko is always with Baba. Koko does everything—playing, bathing, even (“Oops!”) peeing—on Baba’s back, until one day, curiously eyeing some butterflies, Koko jumps off and adventures solo. Dubuc is careful to convey that the exploration is successful and also that Koko climbs right back on Baba’s back when bedtime comes. This boomerang of child independence and caregiver dependence is simply and sweetly done. Koko’s moment of joy at the freedom to explore is captured with rosy cheeks and open arms, Baba’s pride drawn to match. Caregivers will smile at all of Koko’s childlike characteristics, from the “play” that results in a ball bouncing off Baba’s head to Koko’s repeatedly nagging “There!” at the sight of the butterflies. The repetitive nature of the sentence structure makes it a perfect fit for lap reading with an infant or toddler. There are no gendered pronouns for either character. The pencil-and-watercolor illustrations give the koalas and their habitat a soft, inviting look—a fitting complement to the story. This sweet board book is sure to provide readers and little listeners with two separate yet connected takeaways.

Charming illustrations with a simple story that resonates. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-61689-912-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday.

THE ABCS OF LOVE

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring in alphabetical order.

Each page displays an enormous capital letter, one line of verse with the keyword capitalized, and a loving nonhuman parent gazing adoringly at their baby. “A is for Always. I always love you more. / B is for Butterfly kisses. It’s you that I adore.” While not named or labelled as such, the A is also for an alligator and its hatchling and B is for a butterfly and a butterfly child (not a caterpillar—biology is not the aim of this title) interacting in some way with the said letter. For E there are an elephant and a calf; U features a unicorn and foal; and X, keyed to the last letter of the animal’s name, corresponds to a fox and three pups. The final double-page spread shows all the featured creatures and their babies as the last line declares: “Baby, I love you from A to Z!” The verse is standard fare and appropriately sentimental. The art is cartoony-cute and populated by suitably loving critters on solid backgrounds. Hearts accent each scene, but the theme of the project is never in any doubt.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but the syrupy sweetness will cloy after the holiday. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-2095-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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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