YAKKIE ROBINSON

From the Wild Bios series

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

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 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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