This just doesn’t stand up to geometrical scrutiny.

CIRCLES, STARS, AND SQUARES

LOOKING FOR SHAPES

From the Clever Concepts series

The Clever Concepts series gets a new entry that teaches readers about two- and three-dimensional shapes.

As with previous titles, brilliant color photographs provide children with examples of the concepts being presented, all of them emphasizing that shapes are all around us, waiting to be discovered. The first of two loose sections looks at “flat” shapes—circles, ovals, squares, rectangles, triangles, diamonds, and a brief mention of pentagons, hexagons and octagons—the second at “solid” shapes—spheres, cylinders, cubes, cones, rings and eggs. But this latest entry has some troubling problems. While the author uses good vocabulary in some areas, in others, she oversimplifies—for example, never using the terms 2-D or 3-D—or provides what could be described as half-definitions: A sphere is a “solid circle,” while a cylinder “has circles at each end and straight sides in between.” In at least one case, vocabulary is erroneous: A life-saving ring in a picture is called a life jacket within the text. Furthermore, her pictures are not always the best examples. Bricks are great rectangles, but the pattern depicted shows three bricks stuck together, which make a square. She also says that “chocolate candies are all spheres,” showing a cake decorated with spherical candies, but also with M&M’s and chocolate discs, which are hardly spheres.

This just doesn’t stand up to geometrical scrutiny. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-4611-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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The feelings of community and togetherness are palpable.

SNOW GLOBE WISHES

When a snowstorm blows through town, it knocks out power and sends evening commuters scurrying for the safety and warmth of home.

But in the electricity-free night, one family turns the darkness into an opportunity to slow down and enjoy time together. This charming story follows the evening of an interracial family of four: a brown-skinned and dark-haired woman, little girl, and little boy, and a man presenting as white with light-colored skin and light hair. They have a candlelit picnic of Chinese takeout next to a blazing fireplace and decorated Christmas tree. The family enjoys the rest of the quiet snowy evening beneath a blanket fort in which they sleep together, cat and dog bundled in as well. The next morning, they and the rest of the community go out to play in the snow. The final spread in the book depicts the family’s cat and dog looking at the happy human tableau, now within the snow globe, which reads “Peace on Earth.” The muted colors, simple, childlike renderings, and happy characters make this book about a snowstorm feel warm and cozy—think hygge in picture-book form. Aside from the star-topped, decorated tree and the “Peace on Earth” message, often associated with Christmas, there are no religious symbols used in the book.

The feelings of community and togetherness are palpable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-53411-031-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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