Marginally informative and painfully superficial.

WELCOME TO ARIZONA

From the Welcome to… series

Arizona is more than a desert, and its desert is more than sand.

From the Grand Canyon to a rich array of wild plants and animals, this Southwestern state is brimming with nature’s treasures. Basic identifying information, such as the state flower and motto, is introduced in tandem with popular tourist attractions, such as the food and the Four Corners Monument. This entry in the Welcome to… series celebrating the states offers detailed, whimsical illustrations to accompany the scattering of pertinent factoids across the pages. (Companion titles on California, Florida, and Texas publish simultaneously.) Regrettably, the humans depicted are all greeting-card cute and identical in their stylized, round faces; racial difference is indicated only via skin color and hair color and texture. Also concerning is the design decision that places a Diné (Navajo) family producing traditional crafts (with nary a modern convenience in sight) directly after the dinosaurs and before Grand Canyon wildlife. The saguaro is featured, but there is no mention of the Tohono O’odham who have been harvesting the fruit for millennia—with the exception of a brief inclusion in a laundry list of Native peoples. Traditional Mexican/Mexican American and Native foods are displayed on a double-page spread with absolutely no allusions to the peoples or cultures. The underlying dismissal of Arizona’s rich pre-Anglo history is implicit in both design and execution. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Marginally informative and painfully superficial. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17821-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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