Overreaches and oversimplifies at the same time.

BOTANY FOR BABIES

From the Baby 101 series

Another attempt to simplify a complex topic for babies or toddlers.

From the first, Elliott’s stylized plants all have the look of the plants children draw in kindergarten—cheerful, but not scientifically accurate—and seem calculated to emphasize a sense of bounty rather than order. One spread is littered with seeds, but only seven are labeled—unless some are rocks or pebbles? Three following spreads try to explain the difference between roots and shoots, utilizing cross-section views to illustrate belowground growth. Without using the term, photosynthesis is summarized: “Leaves use sunlight to create energy and food for plants to grow.” Similarly, the statement “Bees take pollen from flower to flower so the plants can make seeds” just scratches the surface. The picture of a smiling oversized bee accumulating pollen at the bottoms of all six feet does little to clarify. After a discussion of fruit and fruit seeds, the final spread shows two children (a child of color and a white-presenting child) gazing in amazement at a flower bud that blooms when a flap is lifted. Altogether a confusing disappointment, making this an unfortunate outlier in the Baby 101 series. Zoology for Babies, published simultaneously, is more successful. The topic is more familiar, and animals are more easily sorted by common features and habitat. Just don’t believe its ending proclamation, “Now you’re a zoologist!”

Overreaches and oversimplifies at the same time. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-64878-9

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed.

CLIMATE CHANGE FOR BABIES

From the Baby University series

This book presents a simplified explanation of the role the atmosphere plays in controlling climate.

The authors present a planet as a ball and its atmosphere as a blanket that envelops the ball. If the blanket is thick, the planet will be hot, as is the case for Venus. If the blanket is thin, the planet is cold, as with Mars. Planet Earth has a blanket that traps “just the right amount of heat.” The authors explain trees, animals, and oceans are part of what makes Earth’s atmosphere “just right.” “But…Uh-oh! People on Earth are changing the blanket!” The book goes on to explain how some human activities are sending “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere, thus “making the blanket heavier and thicker” and “making Earth feel unwell.” In the case of a planet feeling unwell, what would the symptoms be? Sea-level rises that lead to erosion, flooding, and island loss, along with extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. Ending on a constructive note, the authors name a few of the remedies to “help our Earth before it’s too late!” By using the blanket analogy, alongside simple and clear illustrations, this otherwise complex topic becomes very accessible to young children, though caregivers will need to help with the specialized vocabulary.

Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8082-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A nice addition to this baby-attuned series.

BABY BOTANIST

From the Baby Scientist series

In this newest addition to the Baby Scientist series toddlers are introduced to the basics of what a botanist does.

The book starts with a simple and straightforward explanation of its subject matter: “Who studies plants? / Baby Botanist does!” Wearing a white lab coat with yellow polka dots, a brown-skinned child with a purple hair bow holding up its one little curl proceeds to present a number of simply stated and easily understood plant facts. As with the previous books, the illustrations are colorful, uncluttered, and humorously engaging, and baby has a sidekick; this time it is a blue-and-yellow snail. After planting a seed, Baby wonders what plant will grow. The text explains that some plants have roots and some do not, and they might grow on water or underground. In a simple acknowledgment of a healthy diet, the book states “Baby’s favorite foods all come from plants.” Children are also presented with food they may not recognize as coming from plants, such as noodles and chocolate. In the end, the seed that Baby has planted, watered, and kept in the sunlight “grows into a flower for Mama!” and with that comes a big thank-you hug from Mama.

A nice addition to this baby-attuned series. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-284132-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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