An accessible if imperfect American album.

AMERICA ABC BOARD BOOK

An alphabetical tour of all things American, from Abraham Lincoln to zipper.

The uncredited author uses a predicable alphabet-book captioning structure (“B is for Baseball”; “J is for July Fourth”), relying on adult readers to explain the relationships of the various items included to the United States of America. They may well be unable to answer what makes a Ferris wheel American or, even more mystifyingly, a uniform (several military-style uniforms are depicted) or a volcano. A mix of full-page and double-page spreads presents each letter; the letter “E” spread must be rotated 90 degrees to accommodate the height of the Empire State Building. There are some odd pairings when two incongruous images are flush up against each other due to their sequence in the alphabet (chocolate chip cookies and Death Valley?). Many of the scenes are quintessentially American, such as the Liberty Bell and Martin Luther King Jr., while others seem to be have been selected for their initial letter alone. While diverse people are present in many of the group scenes, the New Orleans jazz band looks rather a bit too white, and the Thanksgiving page depicts stereotypical, smiling Native Americans and Pilgrims. The flat, inviting imagery in bold colors and rounded lines will support language development in toddlers learning to name their world and, in this case, their nation.

An accessible if imperfect American album. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-279527-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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While the ghoulies here are more cute than scary, “jump,” “quiver,” and “run” will probably get across the idea to even the...

HALLOWEEN ABC

An abecedary of spooky or autumnal delights for the littlest readers.

Each letter of the alphabet is highlighted on a single page, the upper- and lowercase letters appearing in the upper left-hand corner, while the object is named at the bottom or in the upper right. Ho keeps her illustrations simple and places them against plain, brightly colored backgrounds, keeping them accessible to those still learning about Halloween’s many icons. The almost-fluorescent orange cover is sure to attract attention, and the palette of black, purple, orange, yellow, and radioactive green enhances the Halloween mood. But while many of the chosen items will be expected—bats, ghost, haunted house, owl, skeleton, vampire, witch, zombie—others are rather odd choices. J is for “jump,” not jack-o’-lantern (“pumpkin” is illustrated with a jack-o’-lantern); K is for a mostly black “kitten” standing in a coffin; and N is for “nightmare,” which is virtually impossible to express visually for this age group without provoking said nightmare. Here, a lavender-skinned child (zombie?) in pajamas and nightcap has arms raised and mouth open wide in surprise—perhaps in response to the mummy across the gutter? The tough letters use “quiver,” spider-decorated “underpants” on a monster, and “extra treats,” the x underlined.

While the ghoulies here are more cute than scary, “jump,” “quiver,” and “run” will probably get across the idea to even the youngest listeners that Halloween can be scary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9527-9

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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It’s all very obvious, but there’s no harm in harping on kindness.

ABCS OF KINDNESS

A HIGHLIGHTS BOOK ABOUT KINDNESS

An alphabet book featuring different ways to be kind.

This oversized board book takes a walk through the alphabet and hits on most of the obvious ways in which children can be kind to one another, themselves, and the planet. Berger’s simple text includes both small acts, like “Brightening someone’s day with a smile,” and larger ones, such as “Standing up for someone when no one else will.” The text is direct, without any poetry or flourish, so it reads a bit like an encyclopedia. The acts of kindness feel attainable for young readers, and Trukhan’s illustrations offer practical examples: One child gives up their spot in line for the slide; another makes room at the lunch table. Trukhan’s illustrations are reminiscent of Byron Barton’s, featuring bold, block colors and geometric foundations. The book is inclusive of people with many different skin and hair colors, and it also depicts one child with a cochlear implant and another who walks with forearm crutches. Trukhan’s companion title, Kindess Counts 123, with text by R.A. Strong, echoes both this title’s theme and its inclusivity. While none of the content in either book is particularly revelatory, it is still meaningful and nicely presented.

It’s all very obvious, but there’s no harm in harping on kindness. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-651-3

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Highlights Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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