Overt moral instruction for the preschool set may attract occasional interest, but don’t expect kids to read this book on...

LETTERS TO LIVE BY

AN ALPHABET BOOK WITH INTENTION

Riddiough returns to the alphabet book’s didactic roots with this abecedarian guide on intentional living.

As the text remarks, we all “have the power to make our world a better, happier place.” Each lettered page introduces a different ethical principle in the form of a pithy alliterative imperative: “APPRECIATE ART”; “BECOME BRAVE”; “CHOOSE COMPASSION”; and so forth. The artwork portrays children engaged in simple acts and activities that are practical, relatable examples of each principle or ideal; for example, children can “INVITE IMAGINATION” by cloud-gazing on a sunny day, “VALUE VOLUNTEERING” by helping to clean up a park, and “JOIN FOR JUSTICE” by attending a street protest. A few of these visual object lessons are a bit vague or confusing; for instance, the text advises young readers to “RESIST RUMORS,” but the children pictured in the artwork are actually spreading them. Gilland’s digital illustrations, rendered using a palette dominated by pink and green, are serviceable, if unexciting. They are also inclusive, depicting kids with a variety of skin tones and hair textures, a Black girl wearing a hijab, a White girl using a wheelchair, interracial parents, and same-sex parents. The book ends by telling kids to “Z’S THE DAY,” but this pun may likely fly over the heads of the target audience.

Overt moral instruction for the preschool set may attract occasional interest, but don’t expect kids to read this book on repeat. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7624-7308-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A cheery board book to reinforce the oneness of babykind.

BABIES AROUND THE WORLD

Ten babies in 10 countries greet friends in almost 10 languages.

Countries of origin are subtly identified. For example, on the first spread, NYC is emblazoned on a blond, white baby’s hat as well as a brown baby’s scoot-car taxi. On the next spread, “Mexico City” is written on a light brown toddler’s bike. A flag in each illustration provides another hint. However, the languages are not named, so on first reading, the fine but important differences between Spanish and Portuguese are easily missed. This is also a problem on pages showing transliterated Arabic from Cairo and Afrikaans from Cape Town. Similarly, Chinese and Japanese are transliterated, without use of traditional hànzì or kanji characters. British English is treated as a separate language, though it is, after all, still English. French (spoken by 67 million people) is included, but German, Russian, and Hindi (spoken by 101 million, 145 million, and 370 million respectively) are not. English translations are included in a slightly smaller font. This world survey comes full circle, ending in San Francisco with a beige baby sleeping in an equally beige parent’s arms. The message of diversity is reinforced by images of three babies—one light brown, one medium brown, one white—in windows on the final spread.

A cheery board book to reinforce the oneness of babykind. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-938093-87-6

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Duo Press

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Satisfying, engaging, and sure to entertain the toddlers at whom it is aimed.

CIRCLE UNDER BERRY

Nine basic shapes in vivid shifting colors are stacked on pages in various permutations.

This visually striking and carefully assembled collection of shapes, which seems to have been inspired by an Eric Carle aesthetic, invites young children to put their observation, categorization, problem-solving, color, and spatial-relation skills to work, pondering shapes and compositions—and even learning about prepositions in the process. As the text says, “a stack of shapes can make you think and wonder what you see.” First, readers see a circle under a strawberry (the red diamond with a leafy, green top and yellow-triangle seeds) and then that berry over a green square. The orange oval made to look like a fish is added to a stack of three shapes to become “yellow over diamond under guppy over green.” And so on. The metamorphosis of many of these simple shapes into animals (a yellow circle becomes a lion; a green square, a frog; a pink heart, a pig; a yellow diamond, a chicken) will surprise and delight children. Questions are directed at readers: Is a square with two round eyes and semicircle feet a “frog or square or green?” Why, all of the above! The text possesses a pleasing rhythm and subtle rhymes, positively begging to be read aloud: “circle next to berry / square by bear by sweet // blue up high / pig down low / yellow in between.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Satisfying, engaging, and sure to entertain the toddlers at whom it is aimed. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-79720-508-3

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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