A book of rhyming fun for young vocabulary sophisticates.
Just from the quirky title and illustration—a winged alarm clock—on the cover, readers get a hint of the delightful rhymes to be found inside. Bold, colorful graphics, emphasized by the liberal use of black and framed with plenty of white, present an object on the right-hand page while the text on the left identifies it. The objects are mainly run-of-the-mill: “Alarm Clock,” “Fresh Orange Juice,” “Fingernails,” “Fluffy Bath Towel.” The fun starts when readers unfold the gatefold pages beneath the illustrations to discover the object transformed by a very clever rhyming counterpart. “Fresh Orange Juice” becomes “Fresh Orange Goose” (the goose pokes its head out from a glass of orange liquid), and “Fluffy Bath Towel” becomes “Fluffy Bath Owl” (a cross-looking blue owl hangs from a towel rod). Once children have caught on to the rhyming nonsense, the gatefold design will give them time to come up with their own rhymes before revealing the one in the book. Children will squirm in delight when “Cheese on Toast” becomes “Sneeze on Toast” or “Fingernails” become “Fingersnails,” and what child will not salivate at the thought of a “Spoon of Marmalade” becoming “Moon and Starmalade”? The different glimpses of a human—a face, a hand, feet—in the illustrations are of a white person.
Wedding elegant design with witty and funny rhymes and challenging children to play with words make this book a winner.
(Board book. 3-6)
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)
From “Apple” to “Zebra,” an alphabet of images drawn from museum paintings.
In an exhibition that recalls similar, if less parochial, ABCs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (My First ABC, 2009) and several other institutions, Hahn presents a Eurocentric selection of paintings or details to illustrate for each letter a common item or animal—all printed with reasonable clarity and captioned with identifying names, titles, and dates. She then proceeds to saddle each with an inane question (“What sounds do you think this cat is making?” “Where can you find ice?”) and a clumsily written couplet that unnecessarily repeats the artist’s name: “Flowers are plants that blossom and bloom. / Frédéric Bazille painted them filling up this room!” She also sometimes contradicts the visuals, claiming that the horses in a Franz Marc painting entitled “Two Horses, 1912” are ponies, apparently to populate the P page. Moreover, her “X” is an actual X-ray of a Jean-Honoré Fragonard, showing that the artist repainted his subject’s face…interesting but not quite in keeping with the familiar subjects chosen for the other letters.
Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this.
(Informational picture book. 3-5)