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

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 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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From the Future Baby series

A book about engineering notable mostly for its illustrations of diverse characters. (Board book. 1-3)

Babies and engineers have more in common than you think.

In this book, Alexander highlights the unlikely similarities between babies and engineers. Like engineers, babies ask questions, enjoy building, and learn from their mistakes. Black’s bold, colorful illustrations feature diverse babies and both male- and female-presenting adult characters with a variety of skin tones and hair colors, effectively demonstrating that engineers can be any race or either gender. (Nonbinary models are a little harder to see.) The story ends with a reassurance to the babies in the book that “We believe in you!” presumably implying that any child can be an engineer. The end pages include facts about different kinds of engineers and the basic process used by all engineers in their work. Although the book opens with a rhythmic rhyming couplet, the remaining text lacks the same structure and pattern, making it less entertaining to read. Furthermore, while some of the comparisons between babies and engineers are both clever and apt, others—such as the idea that babies know where to look for answers—are flimsier. The book ends with a text-heavy spread of facts about engineering that, bereft of illustrations, may not hold children’s attention as well as the previous pages. Despite these flaws, on its best pages, the book is visually stimulating, witty, and thoughtful.

A book about engineering notable mostly for its illustrations of diverse characters. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31223-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A fun, new take on droppings.

Youngsters can learn about where and how various animals, domestic and wild, relieve themselves.

Via a pull-tab embedded in each recto (not, thankfully, in the rectum) readers can see the before and after, and a goldfish in a bowl leaves a trail while swimming. The verso asks each creature where it does its business, and then a (sometimes-forced) rhyming quatrain, translated from Italian, answers the question: “And where do YOU poop, mouse? / When inside my tummy / Starts to feel not so good / It’s time for a poop / On these chips made of wood!” The final double-page spread queries readers: “And where do YOU poop?” A redheaded, White toddler’s face is visible below this question; the pull-tab on the right opens a bathroom to reveal a White toddler, this time with medium brown hair, happily and modestly sitting on a blue toddler potty. The accompanying quatrain provides some developmentally appropriate guidance for feeling the signs of a movement coming on. Baruzzi’s art is droll and graphically clean (inasmuch as the depiction of excrement can be described that way). Little fingers may need some help finding the relatively easy-to-open and sturdy pull-tabs, since they blend into each page. It works as both a biology lesson and potty-training encouragement.  

A fun, new take on droppings. (Novelty board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66265-042-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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