Criminally diminishes the real Jackie Robinson’s dignity and grace in the face of enormous obstacles.

YAKKIE ROBINSON

From the Wild Bios series

A board-book biography of “the first black yak to join a Major League Basebull team.”

Wordplay is usually a good thing. Introducing very young children to important historical, literary, or artistic figures is also a worthy goal. Unfortunately, this book (part of the Wild Bios series) fails on both accounts. The detailed biographical information is too long (four to five lines per page) for the young children who need sturdy board books. Nor will toddlers understand the extended metaphor derived from using the physical characteristics and behavior of the Himalayan ungulate to describe a change-maker as important as Jackie Robinson. Without adult explanations they will certainly not understand that this retelling parallels the life of an actual, very important human being. Accurate biographical information embedded in sentences that liken Robinson’s family to a “herd of five yaks, grazed by…a hardworking single yak” may seem like clever wordplay. But when applied to an African American who broke a significant color barrier in sports, it is just plain offensive. Playing with concepts requires prior understanding of the content. Toddlers lack this context. In the pictures, “Yakkie” and his “herd” are painted brown, with no attempt to overlay Robinson’s facial features on Yakkie’s; white yaks are pale versions of Yakkie.

Criminally diminishes the real Jackie Robinson’s dignity and grace in the face of enormous obstacles. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68412-913-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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This will have readers putting on their dancing shoes to do the “cha cha cha” with their dino-babies

DINOSAUR DANCE!

It's not the first time dinosaurs have been featured in a clever Boynton board book. It seems she—and we—can't get enough.

As her fans know, Boynton has a sly wit that respects the intelligence of her young fans and amuses the adults asked to “read it again.” In this book she introduces nine dinosaurs, each of which dances in a way that seems totally appropriate for that particular species. “The blue Stegosaurus goes SHIMMY SHIMMY SHAKE. / The red Brontosaurus goes QUIVERY QUAKE.” Drawing on her experience as a children’s musician, she writes a text that trips along like a song with rhymes that make sense but don't intrude. The illustrations, typical Boynton, reflect her greeting-card background. They are cartoonish but manage to capture the unique personality of each creature. The unnamed dinosaur narrator looks genuinely distraught at not being able to name the “tiny little dino” that “goes DEEDLY DEE.” Spoiler alert: the tiny little dinosaur is probably Compsognathus and would be about the size of a small chicken. Young dinophiles would be impressed if the dinosaurologists in their lives could supply that factoid, but alas, they will have to look it up.

This will have readers putting on their dancing shoes to do the “cha cha cha” with their dino-babies . (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8099-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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