ALL ABOUT NOTHING

If lack of substance is the point, it’s right on the mark.

All the positives about negative space.

“Nothing” is a complicated concept to explain—but Rusch attempts to simplify the matter (or lack thereof) through a series of musings. Nothing can be the space between you and other objects, the spaces between written words, the gap after you lose a tooth, or the rests between notes in a song. Personal space can be nothing—and you can have too much, too little, or just the right amount. Nothing is represented visually throughout using paper-white negative space, including on a spread about outer space being “mostly nothing.” Goss’ cut-paper illustrations, outlined with thick black lines, depict a variety of children with skin the varying colors of the pages enjoying nothingness in many ways. Though it’s attractive enough, as a whole the book feels thin, with little to entice kids to return for rereads. Backmatter offers more information “about nothing” and proposes mindfulness and art activities to help kids appreciate negative space, though written instructions could use more clarity—one activity suggests readers “fold a sheet of paper in half. Cut a half circle and a half banana from the folded side and another half circle from the edge above. When you unfold the paper, you’ll see a smiling face.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

If lack of substance is the point, it’s right on the mark. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-62354-352-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

BABY LOVES SCIENTISTS

YOU CAN BE ANYTHING!

From the Baby Loves… series

So rocket science can be fun.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

If they haven’t already thought about their futures (and they probably haven’t), toddlers and preschoolers might start planning after perusing this cheerful first guide to scientific careers. Plump-cheeked, wide-eyed tykes with various skin and hair colors introduce different professions, including zoologist, meteorologist, aerospace engineer, and environmental scientist, depicted with cues to tip readers off to what the jobs entail. The simple text presents the sometimes-long, tongue-twisting career names while helpfully defining them in comprehensible terms. For example, an environmental scientist “helps take care of our world,” and a zoologist is defined as someone who “studies how animals behave.” Scientists in general are identified as those who “study, learn, and solve problems.” Such basic language not only benefits youngsters, but also offers adults sharing the book easy vocabulary with which to expand on conversations with kids about the professions. The title’s ebullient appearance is helped along by the typography: The jobs’ names are set in all caps, printed in color and in a larger font than the surrounding text, and emphasized with exclamation points. Additionally, the buoyant watercolors feature clues to what scientists in these fields work with, such as celestial bodies for astronomers. The youngest listeners won’t necessarily get all of this, but the book works as a rudimentary introduction to STEM topics and a shoutout to scientific endeavors.

So rocket science can be fun. (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62354-149-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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