An accessible if imperfect American album.

READ REVIEW

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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There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful.

EGGS ARE EVERYWHERE

An interactive egg hunt with turning-wheel and lift-the-flap elements.

This board book begins by directing readers to find the hidden eggs. Each wheel—there are four in all set into the interior pages—has several different eggs on it, and turning it reveals an egg in a little die-cut window. Spinning it further hides the egg behind one of two lift-the-flap panels—two baskets, for example—and readers must guess behind which they’ll find the egg they have chosen to track. A diagram on the back provides instructions for use, likely more helpful to caregivers than to little ones. There is no narrative in this book; it’s simply page after page of different directives along the lines of “Guess which door!” As a result, the focus is really on manipulatives and the illustrations. Fortunately, Kirwan’s spring-themed artwork is gorgeous. The backdrop of each page is flower- and leaf-themed with warm spring hues, echoing the artwork of Eastern European hand-stenciled Easter eggs, two of which appear at the end of the book. The animals, like the smiling snail and mischievous mice, are reminiscent of classic European fairy-tale creatures. The only human in the book is a dark-skinned child with tight, curly hair. The moveable pieces largely work, though at times the necessary white space under the flaps interrupts the illustration awkwardly, as when the child’s hands suddenly develop large oval holes if the spinner is not in the correct position. Overall, it’s more game than book.

There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7457-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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