The melodramatic French novel of sin and redemption set against various backdrops of unrest is boiled down to 12 words.
Yep: 12. Words. This board book for the nascent genius begins with “poor,” includes such stirring language as “happy” and “climb” and ends with “together.” Perfectly adorable felt dolls posed against (mostly) three-dimensional backgrounds depict the characters displaying the emotions/characteristics or engaging in the actions described. “Rich” positions a prosperous-looking Jean Valjean in a blue frock coat in front of, presumably, his factory; turn the page to see a “sad” Cosette dressed in rags and wielding a broom, looking out a window. With or without significant interpolation (like, several hundred pages’ worth) from an adult, there is absolutely no way any baby chewing and drooling on this book will make the connection between those two figures and the now-adult Cosette and graying Jean Valjean out for a merry “stroll.” But forget the gaps in narrative; how many babies have yet wrapped their heads around the concepts of “rich” and “poor”? Publishing simultaneously, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace delivers a similarly sweetly illustrated, ludicrous truncation.
Just the ticket for the tot who’s applying early-early-early-early-early decision to Harvard; better hope the RAs will change diapers. (Board book. 1-3)