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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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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The small size, a predictable winter adventure, and Boynton’s very toddlerlike character make this a fine stocking stuffer...

MERRY CHRISTMAS, LITTLE POOKIE

Seven years after Little Pookie (2011) first appeared, this popular piglet is finally celebrating Christmas.

“Oh Pookie! Come look! It’s beginning to snow,” says a maternal-looking pig. But where did Pookie go? Past the Christmas tree, to put on a snowsuit of course. Pookie’s ever cheerful mama is willing to go out too. After all, “It’s a magical time to be walking with you.” When she observes, “Our noses are frozen. It’s time to go in,” Pookie protests in typical toddler style: “But I’m not c-c-c-cold!” The next three pages highlight indoor holiday preparations—making paper garlands, baking and decorating cookies. The rhyming text mirrors the spare illustrations. A spidery type that emulates handwriting makes it clear when Pookie is speaking. Then “the doorbell is ringing. / Our family and friends have arrived for the singing.” The second-to-last spread shows Pookie, mama, and six other pigs—and Boynton’s requisite chicken—singing (“Con brio”), “MER-RY CHRIST-MAS! MER-RY CHRIST-MAS! AND A HAP-PY NEW YEAR!” Conveniently, this text is placed beneath the musical notation. Finally Pookie hangs a stocking and goes off to bed without any fuss, anticipating presents on Christmas morning.

The small size, a predictable winter adventure, and Boynton’s very toddlerlike character make this a fine stocking stuffer or an ideal Christmas Eve read to share with other little piggies. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3724-1

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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