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From the ABC for Me series

Positive and healthy behaviors and practices clumsily mixed together with, ironically, seeming unawareness of the book’s...

Concepts such as “compassion,” “giving,” and “meditation” are introduced one letter at a time.

As with previous titles in Engel’s ABC for Me series, this book is printed on thick, sturdy pages that are filled with bright, cartoonish images of happy children with varied skin tones. A word connected (however tangentially) to the concept of mindfulness is introduced with brief, rhyming text on each page. The final pages present a definition of mindfulness and a few activities for practice. While the concepts are all positive notions that most people would agree are healthy for young children, problems with this book’s execution become immediately apparent with its cringeworthy appropriation of images from various cultures and spiritual traditions. Symbols such as dream catchers, Buddha statues, prayer flags, and culturally specific words such as “Namaste” and “Zen” are all used without providing any context on their origins or significance. The text also struggles, often forcing itself to fit the rhyme structure. “Pay attention to your energy. Is it high or very low? / Either way, just remember it will always flow.” Further, the book confuses mindfulness—the nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment—with other concepts and actions that, while well-intentioned, don’t necessarily have anything to do with mindfulness, such as “sleep” and “vegetables.”

Positive and healthy behaviors and practices clumsily mixed together with, ironically, seeming unawareness of the book’s overall effect. (Board book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63322-510-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A good choice for a late fall storytime.

Animal behaviors change as they prepare to face the winter.

Migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. With smooth rhymes and jaunty illustrations, Salas and Gévry introduce three strategies animals use for coping with winter cold. The author’s long experience in imparting information to young readers is evident in her selection of familiar animals and in her presentation. Spread by spread she introduces her examples, preparing in fall and surviving in winter. She describes two types of migration: Hummingbirds and monarchs fly, and blue whales travel to the warmth of the south; earthworms burrow deeper into the earth. Without using technical words, she introduces four forms of hibernation—chipmunks nap and snack; bears mainly sleep; Northern wood frogs become an “icy pop,” frozen until spring; and normally solitary garter snakes snuggle together in huge masses. Those who can tolerate the winter still change behavior. Mice store food and travel in tunnels under the snow; moose grow a warmer kind of fur; the red fox dives into the snow to catch small mammals (like those mice); and humans put on warm clothes and play. The animals in the soft pastel illustrations are recognizable, more cuddly than realistic, and quite appealing; their habitats are stylized. The humans represent varied ethnicities. Each page includes two levels of text, and there’s further information in the extensive backmatter. Pair with Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s Winter Bees (2014).

A good choice for a late fall storytime. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2900-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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