In the expanding field of children’s mindfulness titles, this one rings true for the youngest.



A petite abecedarium of mindfulness delivered by cheerful, focused animals in rhymed couplets.

“A is for affirmation. / I’m great, and I shine. // B is for breath, / in and out, I feel fine.” Concepts include such emotional states as gratitude and joy. The values of routine self-care, quiet self-monitoring, awareness of the present, and joining others in community are gently unfurled throughout. Each idea gets a short, pithy explanation befitting very young children. Occasionally, the text waxes a bit maudlin: “K is for kindness. / It makes the world go ’round.” A page later, it’s downright metaphysical—“L is for listen. / Even trees make a sound.” The depicted animals correspond with their alphabet letter—F is for frog (and feelings), W is for wallaby (and worry). At always-challenging X, two foxes face each other. “X is for eXpress. / I have so much to tell!” Notwithstanding a couple stutters in scansion, the rhymes are child-centered and appealing. Against pastel backgrounds, animals have googly eyes, comma-shaped smiles, and plenty of positivity. A final page includes five good techniques for helping children calm themselves through relaxation, deep breathing, and creating a quiet place. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

In the expanding field of children’s mindfulness titles, this one rings true for the youngest. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-070-0

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.


From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.


You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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