A slightly offbeat lesson in compassion.

WHAT DO YOU WANT, LITTLE FRIEND?

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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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.

FIVE BLACK CATS

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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A satisfying friendship story to share with very young children in the days leading up to Halloween.

TEENY TINY GHOST

This board book twists the traditional “Teeny Tiny” tale into a less-scary Halloween treat.

This version uses a singsong-y rhythm and cadence to tell the story. “In the teeny tiny barn / Of a teeny tiny house... / Lived a teeny tiny ghost / and a teeny tiny mouse.” Of course the ghost (being teeny tiny) is not very frightening. “But the determined little ghost / Let her mighty courage through / And with a teeny tiny breath / She said a teeny tiny: boo.” Spoiler alert: After just seven page turns the ghost and mouse become friends: “And now the teeny tinies play / In the teeny tiny house. / Just a teeny tiny ghost / And her best friend, mouse.” Pumpkins decorate the cover and final spread and illustrations throughout are in autumnal hues. The fairly high-for-the-format word count—19 to 21 words per page—may be more than toddlers will sit still for, but the “teeny tiny” repetition and rhymes will help. The size (just 6 inches square) makes using the book with a group a challenge, but with a lap-sitting child, it’ll be a pleasure.

A satisfying friendship story to share with very young children in the days leading up to Halloween. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31848-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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