Raises more questions than it answers…and that’s good.

TRUTH WITH SOCRATES

While this book won’t help toddlers understand the scale of Socrates’ importance to Western thought, it presents some simple and vital moral truths and should get kids thinking about thinking.

In a spate of board books for toddlers aiming to introduce them to concepts perhaps better suited to college classrooms, this volume manages to be sweetly age appropriate. It will not give young children an appreciation of the Socratic method; in fact, no iteration of the term occurs. If it teaches children to value truth and honesty, though, and to build an inquisitive spirit, it will justify its place on a child’s bookshelf. As portrayed herein, Socrates is a brown-skinned, bearded old man with a toga, staff, and dog; he has large eyes and appears to be thinking hard. Simple, clear text explains, “A philosopher is someone who loves wisdom.… / Socrates was a philosopher who lived a long time ago.” A racially diverse cast of children, some with visible disabilities, explores their world, asking themselves, “Why am I here?” and “Where did the world come from?” The characters’ large oval heads allow for big, expressive faces with lots of personality. Contrasting pastels and a rich palette of distinct skin tones, varied fonts with colorful highlights, and eye-catching background patterns provide great visual appeal. “Socrates...said wisdom meant wondering about the truth.… / What is something you wonder about?”

Raises more questions than it answers…and that’s good. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10875-8

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Simultaneously iconic, well-meaning, and developmentally inappropriate.

BABY FEMINISTS

Yes, Billie Jean King, Dr. Mae Jemison, and Malala Yousafzai were all babies at one time.

On each recto, there is a flap with the picture of a grown-up feminist icon. When the flap is opened, readers see a baby picture of this individual in a scene that includes an item that was visible through a die-cut hole. Grown-up Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lace collar turns into baby Ruth’s bib, and both adult Frida Kahlo and baby Frida wear flowers in their hair. The patterned text is a series of simple reverse-order statements, each of which starts on the verso and finishes beneath the flap with a repeated refrain: “Before she imagined peace, Yoko Ono was… / a baby.” Walker adeptly creates recognizable images of well-known figures, but the expansive, cream-colored backgrounds dwarf and isolate many of the babes under the flaps. While empowering young girls is a worthy goal, the historical significance of these figures is likely to be lost on youngsters who are still learning the meanings of yesterday and today. The disembodied raised fists of adult Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes in their famous Esquire magazine photo and the baby-sized counterpart fists are particularly confusing. The four concluding double-page spreads consist of a review of the figures who have come before, some encouragement to follow in their footsteps, and a one- to two-sentence biography of each.

Simultaneously iconic, well-meaning, and developmentally inappropriate. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-48010-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A wonderful adaptation of mindfulness practice into board-book format.

LISTEN LIKE AN ELEPHANT

From the Mindfulness Moments for Kids series

Elephant loves using her big ears to notice all of the sounds around her, and readers can too!

This offering is one in a series of mindfulness practice books for children written by well-known children’s yoga-and-mindfulness musician Willey. In place of a story, the vibrantly illustrated board book offers a simple and age-appropriate mindful-listening practice for children. Readers are invited to take a deep breath, still their bodies, and open up to all of the sounds around them, in all directions, up close and far away. The instructions are straightforward, asking readers, “what do you hear?” The lack of superfluous text creates an introductory mindfulness practice perfectly suited to its audience and to the adults who share it with them. The illustrated jungle animals seem to shimmer as they serenely breathe and observe what they hear. There is no judgment about the sounds one may encounter; the objective is simply to observe what is. This restrained approach sets this book apart in the growing realm of mindfulness books for children. Although there is no additional information for adults about mindful-listening practice, the text itself is simple enough for even the mindfulness novice to understand and model while reading. Like its companion, Breathe Like a Bear, this is adapted from a longer, 2017 title for preschoolers also titled Breathe Like a Bear and is one of those rare board adaptations that works for its audience.

A wonderful adaptation of mindfulness practice into board-book format. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9410-6

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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