ABCS OF WHAT I CAN BE by Caitlin McDonagh


Age Range: 4 - 8
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Diverse children act out 100 different careers, organized alphabetically from “astronaut” to “Zumba instructor.”

The layout effectively uses panels to expand the sense of possibility, with, usually, four career alternatives presented per letter/page. L stands for “lawyer,” “landscaper,” “lifeguard,” and, of course, “librarian,” for instance. Just four letters—H, J, Q, and Z—are allotted only three choices each. The illustrations employee a flat, naïve perspective and include comic touches. In the P group, a “police officer” (a woman of color) is depicted eating a doughnut. To illustrate “yarn maker,” a child with beige skin is wrapped up in yarn like a big spool. As two “groomers” (both children of color) trim a poodle, a cat seems ready to stick the plug for the electric clippers into an inhabited hamster ball. Most of the selections are logical, but a few stretch credulity, at least as careers, such as “yo-yo competitor” and “yodeler.” There are four choices for X, but with no legend or explanation, it’s up to adult caregivers to help kids understand “xerophytic gardener” and “exobiologist” (they’ll probably pick up on “xylophone player” and “X-ray technician” without much difficulty). Overall, the illustrations provide the fun while the selection of jobs makes the book useful, and the vigorous eye to diversity is a real plus.

Readers will love choosing their favorite, strangest, or funniest or coming up with their own quirky ideas. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 24th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3782-5
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2018


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