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From the ABC for Me series , Vol. 13

Doesn’t quite succeed as either an alphabet book or a guide to helping.

Alphabetically arranged suggestions of ways children can help their families and communities.

This alphabet book highlights both general tips (“Be kind to others and say nice words”) and more specific ones (“Make your bed”). While some examples might be more obvious (“V for volunteer”), others point toward the readers’ sense of self, like “D is for Do Your Best.” These positives aside, the text doesn’t always work. “Try reading to someone younger than you to help them learn, too!” seems out of place in a board book with an audience of largely pre-readers. While some of the ideas include explanations of how or why they are helpful, not all include that piece. Overall, the limitations of the alphabet structure result in some forced suggestions (“O is for offer,” “Z is for amaZing”) and a missed attempt at conveying complicated topics like self-help. The mismatch between the intended audience and the format, however, is its biggest hurdle. The illustrations include people who range in ages, skin tone, and abilities. One child uses a hearing aid, one uses a prosthetic leg, and one uses arm crutches. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doesn’t quite succeed as either an alphabet book or a guide to helping. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7603-7610-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this.

From “Apple” to “Zebra,” an alphabet of images drawn from museum paintings.

In an exhibition that recalls similar, if less parochial, ABCs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (My First ABC, 2009) and several other institutions, Hahn presents a Eurocentric selection of paintings or details to illustrate for each letter a common item or animal—all printed with reasonable clarity and captioned with identifying names, titles, and dates. She then proceeds to saddle each with an inane question (“What sounds do you think this cat is making?” “Where can you find ice?”) and a clumsily written couplet that unnecessarily repeats the artist’s name: “Flowers are plants that blossom and bloom. / Frédéric Bazille painted them filling up this room!” She also sometimes contradicts the visuals, claiming that the horses in a Franz Marc painting entitled “Two Horses, 1912” are ponies, apparently to populate the P page. Moreover, her “X” is an actual X-ray of a Jean-Honoré Fragonard, showing that the artist repainted his subject’s face…interesting but not quite in keeping with the familiar subjects chosen for the other letters.

Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-4938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A timely message in the wrong format.

This book delivers a message on the power of collective action.

As the book opens, a child looks at a lone star shining in the sky: “One star shines as distant light.” After the turn of the page, the child now sees what looks like the Milky Way: “And when stars shine together, they make our galaxy.” The book goes on to give a number of similar examples to reinforce the message of the power that comes from working together, ending with: “One of us can speak up for justice / And when we speak up together we create a world of possibility.” In the current atmosphere of strife and discord that divides our country, this is certainly a welcome message. Perhaps, though, the board-book set is not the right audience. As a picture book aimed at a slightly older group with an information page at the end explaining some of the illustrations, it might work well. As it is, however, some of the visual references will merely puzzle a toddler—and some adults. For example, a group of angry-looking people raising their fists and singing together may not look like “harmony” to a toddler—unless they know about the New Zealand haka. There is an unexplained frog motif that runs through the book that may also mystify readers. Nagara’s brilliant illustrations portray people of many ethnic backgrounds.

A timely message in the wrong format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64421-084-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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