Unlike many didactic social-skills training texts, this kindhearted board book will resonate with its young audience.

FEEL BETTER, DADDY

A STORY ABOUT EMPATHY

From the Bright Start Right Start series

A preschool-age child models ways to help an ailing father get well soon.

While some books about emotional intelligence can be quite preachy, this “story about empathy” sets a sweet, child-friendly tone. A young, pale-skinned but otherwise ethnically ambiguous protagonist notices Daddy’s red nose and sneezing and decides to take over as caregiver for the day. The child reads him a rollicking pirate story, complete with voices; draws him a picture using “every single color from my crayon box”; and snuggles up so they can nap together. These actions feel genuine and accessible, all things toddler listeners could successfully emulate in their own lives. It’s not overly heavy either, with breezy line drawings that sketch round, oversized heads that draw attention to facial expressions and a limited grayscale palette with a cheerful peachy-orange accent color. A light sense of humor pervades, such as a helpful pup, tissues perched precariously on its head, or a dubiously delicious homemade soup. The child straightforwardly narrates the thought process of comforting Daddy, allowing readers to further empathize. With pages composed of unusual, coated stock, the book is sturdy and water-resistant, though its moderately rough texture isn’t as welcoming as its warm story. A companion book about gratitude starring a ginger-haired family holds similarly familiar scenarios.

Unlike many didactic social-skills training texts, this kindhearted board book will resonate with its young audience. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-304-8

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Words & Pictures

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Purchase for some temporary interactive Halloween fun.

MY MAGICAL WITCH

From the My Magical Friends series

Four green-faced witches fly through this durable board book looking for Halloween fun.

A turn of the notched wheel embedded in the cover page changes the sparkly stripes on a witch’s hat, cape, and broom. Three more witches join the fun inside. Though not identified by gender, all wear dresses. All the interactive elements are focused on the first witch, who wears fluffy orange hair in two pigtails. One slider simultaneously lifts a broom and plops a straight hat on top of that hair. Another slides the witch across the night sky. A second wheel shows the ingredients being added to a cauldron. A final slider magically produces three black cats. Two lines of (uncredited) rhyming text on each of the four double-page spreads hint at what the interactive element will reveal. While the text is conveniently placed in the same spot on each spread, the vocabulary is peppered with reach words for the toddler audience: “Off they swooped on whizzing brooms, / heading for the potions room.” Mice, pumpkins, spiderwebs, owls, brooms, bats, and other thematically appropriate objects and creatures scattered across the busy pages place the book firmly in the Halloween genre. Unnamed and primarily decorative, these seemingly arbitrary additions distract from the slight story thread. Toddlers will readily manipulate the five smoothly performing interactive elements; unfortunately, the text and pictures are not equally enticing.

Purchase for some temporary interactive Halloween fun. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4463-1

Page Count: 8

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Vibrant photographs—especially action shots—will capture children’s attention, build language skills and, one hopes, start...

FAMILIES

“We hope this book…will lead children and their parents to engage in conversation about their families.”

So begins this good-sized book, which is packed with photographs of families of many different sizes, shapes, ages and colors (although most wear casual clothing familiar to most American children). Bold, colorful type announces: “There are all kinds of families.” Engaging photographs throughout complement a simple text that informs readers about differences—such as big vs. small; genders and generations of parents; adoption vs. birth children. Positive similarities follow, as families get together for celebrations and family members help one another out and enjoy activities together. Only childless families are excluded, but that can be forgiven by the book’s noble, stated goal. Kelly adds an endnote to further encourage parents: “Recently, research psychologists have found that children who developed a strong family narrative from speaking with their parents about family history and hearing family stories, both good and bad, exhibited greater self-esteem….” As the photographs’ emotional spectrum covers the tiny range from cheerful to exuberant, it’s an open question whether this will encourage or inhibit truthful family-history revelations. However, the emphatic ending will certainly start a dialogue: “There are many different kinds of families. What about yours?”

Vibrant photographs—especially action shots—will capture children’s attention, build language skills and, one hopes, start conversations. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3053-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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