LET'S PLAY!

A BOOK ABOUT MAKING FRIENDS

A friendship primer for the primary set.

While this picture book isn’t necessarily set in a post-pandemic world, its overt social-emotional lessons will doubtless prove useful and relevant for many children coming out of varying degrees of social isolation. The writing style verges on the expository with narration that reads like a voice-over in a documentary that records the experiences of a red-haired White girl named Sukie as she enters a new school. Her class has 15 other pupils, some of whom also appear to be White while others seem to be children of color, including one child who wears hijab. Larmour’s art style has shades of Quentin Blake, Bob Graham, Amy Schwartz, and Aliki, with lots of bright colors, expressive linework, and emphasis on character over setting. Themes of sameness and difference, loyalty, and sharing along with a range of emotions are explored in small moments that follow Sukie and her classmates as they form friendships and build community. An author’s note acknowledges that “this book doesn’t show things going wrong between friends, even though sometimes they do. Instead, I wanted to focus on what it can look like when friendship goes right.” Honestly, it looks great, and this affirming, practical, engaging picture book will be a terrific resource for young readers to befriend.

Let’s read this one. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1765-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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Good advice and good reading practice rolled into one.

MY FIRST KITTEN

From the My First series

Kitten care presented early-reader style.

“Something soft and furry / Is coming home with me. // It is my new kitten. / She is as sweet as can be!” First-person, easy-reading text describes meeting the kitten, feeding the kitten, playing with the kitten, then taking it to the vet and keeping it safe. The first half of this volume is presented in rhyme with Wachter's photos of real children of various races and their kittens (always the same kitten-and-child pairings) imposed on simple cartoon backgrounds. On other pages, photos of kittens (all cute as the dickens) leaping, scratching, running, and sleeping appear against similar backgrounds. The second half reiterates the same information but in more detail. It passes on instructions in simple language for tasks like introducing a kitten to its litter box and interpreting the sounds and body language of your new furry friend. Jumping the species barrier, Biscuit creator Capucilli does a fine job of instructing young, new pet owners in the care of their wee feline friends in this companion to My First Puppy (2019). This helpful guidebook ends with a message encouraging aspiring young pet friends to adopt from shelters. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-12-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85.7% of actual size.)

Good advice and good reading practice rolled into one. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7754-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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