March 28th, 2015 · Books

9781419715143_Rhymoceros_CVReview By JESSICA ALMY

Another board book to share! Following up on the 2012 smash hit Hippopposites, Janik Coat is back with another visually driven, humorous book that parents are sure to like as much as their toddlers do.

Our protagonist this time around is, as the title suggests, a rhinoceros. Juxtaposing a single word on each page, Coat plays with rhyme and design to create surprising contrasts. For example, on one page, the titular rhinoceros is being “caring” by walking a dog on a leash. On the facing page, she (he?) is “daring,” walking along a tightrope between two skyscrapers with the dog perched calmly on her head.

Unfortunately, the anti-captivity theme of Coat’s previous book does not reappear in this book, but still, there is a subtle message of kindness to animals. The little dog, who appears about halfway through the book, reappears again on the last page. After the rhinoceros is depicted as being “sad,” she is joined by her canine companion, at which time her mood turns to “glad.”

I highly recommend this darling book for newborns through age 3.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

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I Love You, Blankie

March 26th, 2015 · Books


This cute board book uses sing-songy verse to tell a classic bedtime story. A toddler and his (her?) blanket go on an adventure along the water and up into the sky, only to settle into bed and fall peacefully asleep.


I like that this book’s dreamy quality captures the versatility that so many young children find in a beloved blanket. A blanket can be a cape, a sail, or a balloon. But at the end of the day, it’s also a source of comfort–to “snuggle,” and “hug and cuddle, too.”

Babies and toddlers will like this book’s soft padded cover. I recommend this book for newborn through 18 months.

The publisher sent me a review copy of this book.

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Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby

March 24th, 2015 · Books

LullabyKissesSweet-smReview By JESSICA ALMY

My kiddo’s baby days have long since passed us by, but I love this collection of short read-aloud poems for babies! Nonhuman animals attired in bibs, shorts, and even eyeglasses are the focus of the illustrations, but they’re not the narrators. Instead, all the poems are told from baby’s point of view.

Divided into five sections–family, food, firsts, play, and bedtime–this board book is in fact an anthology of poems. They each stand on their own, but their collective brevity and warmth makes the book an easy read in a single sitting.

Parents of vegetarian and vegan babies will find much to like in this book, particularly in the “food” section, which celebrates rice cereal, apples, oranges, watermelon, and spaghetti. There are so many delicious foods for older babies to enjoy!

The only potentially problematic food the book depicts is “milk.” Given that the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that no children should drink cow’s milk before 12 months of age, I would expect that the baby’s milk is either breastmilk or formula. Still, the illustration seems to suggest otherwise. Perhaps the baby depicted is already 1 and the “milk” is soymilk the whole family enjoys? I’ll leave it to you to decide.



All in all, Lullaby & Kisses Sweet is a delightful book that babies and their caregivers are likely to enjoy. I recommend this book for ages birth to 18 months.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

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Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees

March 22nd, 2015 · Books


This straightforward telling of Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot, is accompanied by colorful and beautiful illustrations by Aurélia Fronty that help set the tone of hope and action throughout the book. This storybook, based on the true story of a young Kenyan girl who became the leader of an environmental and social movement. Aimed at 6-9 year olds, this book will be interesting and educational for both children and parents.


I read this book aloud to my six year old, and we stopped several times to discuss details and the scenes depicted in the art. Told in the present tense, the events feel like they happened very recently. The story deals with important and difficult issues (British colonialism, gender inequality, environmental impact) in understandable and clear descriptions that allow children to ask age-appropriate questions.

The story of Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmental and human rights activist, is inspirational. This storybook version of her life demonstrates the importance of family, caring for the earth, and working hard for your values even when faced with opposition. The story highlights actions children can easily relate to, they will connect to Wangari’s desire to plant trees, provide a habitat for animals, help those in need, and stand up for justice.

The vivid colors and whimsical illustrations are a fantastic accompaniment to the story. With trees and leaves central to the picture themes, readers will enjoy finding hidden surprises in the details. The tone of the story is also supported by the different choices of colors and styles, and the revolution created by Wangari is shown in both realistic and fantastical images in the pages.

Following the story, which takes the reader through Wangari Maathai’s triumphant election to Parliament and Nobel Peace Prize award, there are photographs and information about Kenya and the legacy Wangari left behind. Highly recommended.

The publisher sent a copy of this book for review.


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