This ballgame is a board-book miss.

THE BALL GAME

From the Let's Play Games! series

The novelty-book answer to the basketball net on the wastepaper basket.

On the paperboard overwrap that holds this accordion-fold board book together, players are invited to “screw a piece of paper into a ball” and flick it, throw it or shoot it with a rubber band through holes in the book. One side of the book contains various cartoon scenes of sporting events involving balls: basketball, soccer, rugby, tennis and golf. The colorful verso lists numeric point values. A few of the targets will be manageable for young players, but the others (the smallest hole is less than one-half inch in diameter) will prove frustratingly impossible. The companion title, The Game of Mirrors, is also wordless and uses shiny silver pages, a variety of geometric forms and several die-cut holes punched through the center to create a mesmerizing visual experience. Both titles contain the choking-hazard label that has beset many of the other books in the series. While a detachable piece from The Ball Game is likely to blame for this warning, it is quite baffling what the small parts are on The Game of Mirrors, as there are none to be found. While The Ball Game really is most appropriate for children above 3 years since significant coordination is needed, it is too bad Tullet’s American publishers could not find a way to make The Game of Mirrors safe for core board-book readers; babies would have been the perfect audience for this playful exploration.

This ballgame is a board-book miss. (Board book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7148-6688-8

Page Count: 8

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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