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Cityblock

Christopher Franceschelli, illus. by Peskimo. Abrams Appleseed, $16.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2189-2

Franceschelli celebrates the sights, tastes, and vehicles of the city in this follow-up to Alphablock, Countablock, and Dinoblock, again illustrated by British design team Peskimo. Clever, well-designed die-cuts bring readers deeper into each scene while creating a guessing game to participate in: often, large die-cut objects in the foreground (a soccer ball, a pair of chopsticks) swing out of the way to reveal their locations (the stadium, a Japanese restaurant). As readers follow an elderly man and two children around town, they get a taste of crowded subways, all manner of street food, and multiple ways to see the city, including from a helicopter. It’s a big urban adventure in a small package. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Good Night Farm

Patricia Hegarty, illus. by Thomas Elliott. Tiger Tales, $12.99 (18p) ISBN 978-1-58925-233-2

A barn owl flies around a farm as night falls, bidding good night to animals, a tractor, and more. The book’s large trim size accommodates a fair amount of text, and Hegarty’s long-for-the-format rhymes allow readers to settle into the sleepy mood she establishes: “The shadows grow long, as darkness falls./ In the stable, the horses shift in their stalls./ Snuffling and snorting, they whinny and neigh,/ and whisper good night at the end of the day.” Elliott’s cozy artwork is well-suited to the tone and mood of the verse, and tactile elements (fur for various animals, the denim of a scarecrow’s overalls, etc.) bring a gentle interactive note to this comforting bedtime book. Ages 2–5. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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God Made the Sun

Mary Manz Simon, illus. by Lizzie Walkley. WorthyKids, $7.99 (20p) ISBN 978-0-8249-1980-1

A child reflects on the sun’s presence from morning (“I see the sun begin to climb./ The stars have disappeared./ God’s great big light bulb in the sky/ tells me a new day’s here”) to evening (“Then when the sun starts sliding down/ and carries off the light,/ I’m sure that God, who made the sun,/ will stay with me tonight”). Die-cut circles let a yellow sun shine through each page, and Walkley’s cartoons easily evoke the cheery warmth of a sunny day. Simon keeps the religious content of the book light, instead focusing on the joyful activities—jumping rope, swimming, picnicking, etc.—that fill the boy’s day. Simultaneously available: God Made the Moon. Ages 2–5. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Fox Babies!

Photos by Steve Hirsch. Farcountry, $8.95 (26p) ISBN 978-1-56037-687-3

Hinch’s adorable photographs of foxes in the wild are the star of this addition to an extensive series of board books based around baby animals. Brisk rhymes, housed in brightly colored boxes that flank the photos, offer a lighthearted narrative complement (“Wake up, baby fox, it’s getting late./ Come have fun with your playmate”), but all eyes will be on Hirsch’s sharp photographs as amber-hued foxes are shown leaping through tall grass, sitting quietly beside trees, and roughhousing with siblings. It’s a basic, eye-catching introduction to these playful mammals that should easily pique the interest of young animal lovers. Available simultaneously: Elk Babies! Ages 2–5. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Follow the Yarn: A Book of Colors

Emily Sper. Jump (AtlasBooks, dist.), $7.99 (24p) ISBN 978-0-9754902-8-0

It’s a cat’s paradise: with every turn of the page of this playfully simple board book, another ball of yarn trails across the blank white spreads as Sper names 11 colors. A crisply drawn black cat tussles with the yarn on each page, curling up with a scribbled ball of yellow yarn and getting tangled up in orange a few pages later. Loops of red, pink, blue, brown, and other colors create a festive atmosphere as the book draws to a close, and Sper makes a startling shift to an all-black backdrop in the final spread, rendering her star almost invisible as the cat toys with one last ball of white yarn. Ages 2–4. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Cinderella

Chloe Perkins, illus. by Sandra Equihua. Little Simon, $8.99 (24p) ISBN 978-1-4814-7915-8

In one of two board books kicking off the Once Upon a World series, Perkins transplants the story of Cinderella to Mexico, though in only the most superficial of ways. Mexican illustrator Equihua embraces the setting in her digital cartoons, from the tiled floor of Cinderella’s home to the layered white gown she wears to the ball. But with no real attempt made to integrate Mexican life into the retelling (not a word of Spanish is used, and the ball is thrown by the king, despite the nation’s brief history with monarchy), the overall effect is that of cultural window-dressing. Snow White, set in Japan, is available simultaneously. Ages 2–4. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Tickle My Ears

Jörg Mühle, trans. from the German by Catherine Chidgey. Gecko (Lerner, dist.), $9.99 (20p) ISBN 978-1-776570-76-8

Mühle brings a metafictional approach to familiar bedtime routines as he invites readers to help Little Rabbit get ready to turn in. After tapping Little Rabbit on the shoulder so he’ll turn around, children are asked to clap their hands so he will put on his pajamas, and they later have a chance to fluff Little Rabbit’s pillow, tuck him in, give him a goodnight kiss, and even turn out the light. Soft, crayonlike outlines and some lovely touches (Little Rabbit’s rosy cheeks have the texture of thumbprints) help establish a quiet mood that could help pave the way for smooth bedtimes on readers’ parts, too. Ages 1–2. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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What Do You See?

Kyla Ryman, illus. by Wangechi Mutu. Home Grown (PGW, dist.), $9.95 (20p) ISBN 978-0-9970587-0-3

In this addition to the Mini Museum series, Ryman invites readers to examine a work by Kenyan-born and Brooklyn-based artist Wangechi Mutu. “Le Noble Savage,” a 2006 work of ink and collage, is initially seen in a sequence of details; Ryman points out something she has noticed (“I see a humming bird landing gingerly”) then asks readers what they see. Eventually, the multilayered image is shown in full, a haunting, even disturbing, portrait of a woman with mottled skin holding a palm tree aloft as a snake travels up her arm. It’s imagery that will challenge some adults, let alone toddlers, but also a rewarding introduction to looking closely at art. Up to age 6. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Why Cry?

Yusuke Yonezu. Minedition (IPG, dist.), $9.99 (18p) ISBN 978-988-8341-04-7

Japanese author-illustrator Yonezu packs tremendous angst into a tiny package as he introduces a parade of sobbing animals and children, each more distraught than the last. Semicircular die-cuts form the characters’ wailing mouths, and the jagged outlines and bold colors of the artwork all but shout peak tantrum. Comforting words are of no use (“Little pig, come have a hug!”), but the stacked-up die-cuts form a rainbow at book’s end, which does the trick. “Dry your tears and smile!” Yonezu writes. “After rain comes sunshine.” Luckily for parents, the sight of all of these crying creatures is more likely to produce knowing giggles than sympathetic sobs. Up to age 3. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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When We Are Quiet

Stacy Sims, illus. by Shahaheh Khosravani. Blue Manatee (IPG, dist.), $7.99 (14p) ISBN 978-1-936669-45-5

“Hush, hush. Listen, baby./ Let me hold you tight./ When we are quiet,/ we hear the sounds of night.” In soothing, rhythmic rhymes, Sims unspools a gentle poem intended to encourage calmness as bedtime approaches. Khosravani captures tender moments between parents and their children in blocky images of adults kissing and embracing their babies. It isn’t the most diverse roundup (five of the six families have peachy-pink skin), but every page exudes substantial warmth and tenderness, and a closing list of suggestions offers tips for parents hoping to encourage restful bedtime habits like self-soothing and mindful breathing in their own children. Up to age 3. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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