BATHTIME MATHTIME SHAPES

This well-meaning math concept book sinks under the weight of too much information, unevenly conveyed—a washout.

Pictures of objects on the front and outlines of shapes on the back of sturdy tabs invite precocious toddlers to open the pages.

Within, four-line rhyming verses that incorporate the titular refrain include a question and hint about an object, usually but not always bath-related, with that shape. Four common shapes—circle, square, triangle and rectangle—begin, respectively paired with “mommy’s pretty ring,” a washcloth, the sail on a toy boat, and a bath towel. From this concrete beginning the concepts grow abruptly more abstract. A charming double-page illustration of the toddler protagonist sitting amid shapes floating in the bathtub accompanies the vague text: “What shapes can the water make? / A heart or star? An oval lake? / Water changes shape—it’s flowing. / Bathtime Mathtime, let’s keep going!” Then one spread and 10 lines of text describe 3-D objects: sphere (a ball), cylinder (a shampoo bottle—notably, not depicted as a cylinder), and cube (blocks). The next spread just shows the light-skinned, pigtailed child splashing in the tub. The note to parents at the end claims that the book will show that bathtime “(including hair washing!)” can be fun, but nowhere in the story are the child’s pigtails taken down, much less shampooed. A final rebus provides a review and hurriedly introduces cone and pyramid shapes.

This well-meaning math concept book sinks under the weight of too much information, unevenly conveyed—a washout. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-93396-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

ANIMAL SHAPES

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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