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From the Checkers and Dot series

by J. Torres, illustrated by J. Lum

Age Range: 0 - 1

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-77049-441-1
Publisher: Tundra

In black and white with striped, dotted and checkerboard patterns, this board book seems made to order for developing newborn eyes, but the attempt is misguided.

True to their names, Checkers, a young boy, wears a checked shirt, and Dot, a little girl, wears a polka-dot dress. Readers are introduced to these characters as well as their pets, a cat named Stripesy and a dog named Spot. The next spread, divided into quarters, encourages little ones to look at the patterns on each character more closely, but the designs and the faces of each character are far too small for very young babies to focus on. Most books for the birth-to-3-month set eschew creating characters as it is so hard to do in such a limited color palette and truly unnecessary for babies still learning they have a separate identity from their caregivers. In the sequel, Checkers and Dot at the Zoo, the boy and girl see a panda, zebra, penguin and gorilla placed against more high-contrast backgrounds of stripes, lines and swirls. A larger image of each animal would have served as a better introduction.

While there is little doubt the high-contrast patterns will hold the gaze of newborns, the real question is if the small images of the characters will have any meaning for them. (Board book. 0-6 mos.)