This interesting attempt to make Mr. Rogers’ wisdom broadly accessible may wind up mainly reinforcing the importance of his...

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A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

THE POETRY OF MISTER ROGERS

A collection of the lyrics to 75 songs composed by the beloved children’s-television personality.

Readers and listeners who’ve heard these words sung by their creator seem likely to be the most appreciative audience for the earnest messages, lighthearted flights of fancy, and familiar phrases found in the poems gathered here. Caregivers may wish to search out a specific song to introduce (or reinforce) a discussion about a typical childhood experience or difficulty. Poems encouraging a strong sense of self abound, as do those that reassure young children that they can manage their emotions as they continue to learn and grow. Because of the thematic emphasis on healthy development, however, this is more a resource than a collection that would invite casual browsing. Unfortunately, without the melodies, some of the poems lack obvious rhythm. And, as songs often do, some feature repeating phrases or verses. Both of these factors further weaken the book’s potential appeal as a general poetry collection. Flowers’ illustrations are energetic and feature characters from the iconic television show as well as vignettes of young children and spot drawings of everyday objects. The pictures tie the collection even more closely to their source and may spark some interest, but they do little to extend or expand the meaning of the text.

This interesting attempt to make Mr. Rogers’ wisdom broadly accessible may wind up mainly reinforcing the importance of his presence to its success. (index) (Poetry. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68369-113-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

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. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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