A slightly offbeat lesson in compassion.


Whether this book is charming, profound, or insubstantial, it’s a quick, sweet read. The overarching simplicity in storyline and artwork in this odd little book leaves one wondering if its message lies in what’s rendered, what’s implied, or what readers infer. Clean, uncluttered lines, spare, bright colors, and white backgrounds mirror the minimal detail of the plot. A playful, kite-flying kitten accidentally steps on a fly. Upset, the kitten asks, “Are you okay, little fly?” Over the course of the next nine double-page spreads, the kitten alternately exhorts the fly to “move like me,” “walk like ants do,” or “fly like the birds.” After each suggestion, the kitten asks, “Don’t you want to?” as the fly lies on its back, legs in the air, either dead or stunned. Finally, the kitten cups a hand to its ear and asks, “What are you saying, little fly?” In what may be a Buddhist nod to the sanctity of all life, a statement about the healing power of love or perhaps the importance of listening, or an unfortunate dismissal of the rules of hygiene, the kitten concludes, “Aaaah! You want a KISS!” After a laying on of lips, the reanimated fly flits off, as the kitten bids it, “Goodbye, little friend!” The net effect is arguably equal parts beguiling and puzzling. A slightly offbeat lesson in compassion. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61689-944-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Fun format; bland text.


From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.


A troop of cats traverse a spooky landscape as they make their way to a party hosted by ghosts.

Each double-page spread shows the felines’ encounters with the likes of an owl, jack-o’-lanterns or a bat. One or two of these creepy meetings may be too abstract for the youngest readers, as the cats hear eerie noises with no discernible source on the page. The text, which consists of one rhyming couplet per scene, mostly scans despite a couple of wobbles: “Five black cats get a bit of a scare / As the flip-flapping wings of a bat fill the air.” The sleek, slightly retro art, likely created using a computer, depicts the cats cavorting at night through a shadowy cityscape, the countryside and a haunted house; they may scare some toddlers and delight others. A brighter color palette would have given the project a friendlier, more universal appeal. Luckily, the well-lit, final party scene provides a playful conclusion.

For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-611-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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