The importance of the STEM fields in our world cannot be overstated. But the importance of understanding early childhood...


From the Baby University series

Another board book attempts to communicate complex scientific ideas to very young children.

This book and its companions, all aimed at very young children, presume the intended audience is familiar with conventional symbols to convey information, as all the explanations are made visually by means of arrows that indicate airflow. It stretches the imagination to believe toddlers will follow explanations delivered that way. Even more baffling is the assumption that toddlers have in their vocabulary arsenal words such as “flow,” “angle,” “deflect,” “lift,” and “thrust.” Further complicating the attempt is the oversimplification necessary to communicate to youngsters. Boiling concepts down to such statements as “This ship is full of fuel. / If the fuel goes out, // the ship goes forward” perhaps ought to have indicated the futility of this particular effort. In companion General Relativity, there is a page with horizontal and vertical lines forming a grid. Many toddlers might identify this as a piece of mosquito netting, but they would be wrong, as it is in fact “flat space.” Later they will also find out that “Mass drags space.” And “Space drags mass.” The explanations in Newtonian Physics and Quantum Physics are no better. Adults wishing to introduce children to the laws of physics will be more effective—and have more fun—playing with blocks, making waves in the bathtub, and launching paper planes into the air.

The importance of the STEM fields in our world cannot be overstated. But the importance of understanding early childhood development when writing for preschoolers cannot be overstated either. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5625-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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There’s charm in this picture book, but it’s a bit of a wash.


A rhyming introduction to a variety of weather phenomena.

“So how about that weather?” A ubiquitous small-talk topic gets the board-book treatment in this cheerful informational text. Enthusiastic, colorful illustrations are a highlight, and beaming, anthropomorphic kawaii-style weather formations are eye-grabbers. Who doesn’t love a grinning rainbow? Children with various skin tones pictured throughout the book are equally pleasant and include a wheelchair user. If the book is agreeable to look at, it's less so to listen to. The oft-stilted rhymes aren't intuitive, and clunkers like “when a cloud gets dark and heavy with rain it's called a cumulonimbus which is such a funny name” take a few tries to get right when read aloud. Adding insult to injury, the line breaks are sometimes jarring, making the rhyme even more daunting. Most of the main sections contain appropriately digestible bits of introductory information conveyed in a bubbly, enthusiastic tone, with snow described vividly as “raindrops that freeze into crystals.” However, sometimes there is a mismatch between the text and its intended audience. Some topics—seasons, clouds, rain—with their easily visible and experiential elements, seem perfectly suited for toddlers; others, like humidity and hurricanes, are more of a stretch. A “Fun Fact” section discussing matters such as the Earth’s axis and climatology versus meteorology is more appropriate for early-elementary learners. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

There’s charm in this picture book, but it’s a bit of a wash. (Informational board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-953344-47-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Genius Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this.


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)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-4938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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