While this historic roll call is impressively diverse, toddlers are highly unlikely to grasp the importance of these female...

THIS LITTLE TRAILBLAZER

A GIRL POWER PRIMER

From the This Little series

Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks, and Maria Tallchief are some of the icons introduced in this “Girl Power Primer.”

On the book’s first two pages, these and seven other women and girls (elementary school student Ruby Bridges and teen Malala Yousafzai are in the mix) appear in a group shot on a flowery field against a pink sky. Holub’s couplets, which range from passable to clunky, appear on the versos of the next 10 double-page spreads accompanied by a small portrait of the featured trailblazer. On each recto, there is a full-page image of the subject in action with a small one- or two-sentence caption with additional details. Roode’s highly saturated illustrations, which look to have been created with CGI tools, turn each figure from history into a wide-eyed cartoon with an oversized head. Unfortunately, this cutesy and simplified style makes architect and sculptor Maya Lin look to be about 3 and Ada Lovelace appear to be opening window blinds rather than creating one of the first computer programs (although how one would represent this to very young children is a bit of a puzzle). The final two pages present 12 additional women, leaving a 13th space with a question mark labeled “You!”

While this historic roll call is impressively diverse, toddlers are highly unlikely to grasp the importance of these female pioneers from the few, short lines and the simplified and sometimes confusing images. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0106-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A mismatch in every way.

THIS LITTLE SCIENTIST

A DISCOVERY PRIMER

From the This Little series

An introduction to 10 scientists for the youngest readers.

Each historical or modern figure is featured on their own double-page spread, which includes a close-up portrait and rhyming couplets on the verso, and the facing page features the scientist in action and a caption of a sentence or two offering more information about their work but often written at a level far beyond the board-book audience’s developmental capacity. The usual suspects are here, including Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, but women and scientists of color can also be found, such as naturalist and painter Maria Sibylla Merian and particle physicist Sau Lan Wu. The verse is strained, forced, and often doesn’t scan (for Katherine Johnson: “This little scientist got the math right / to help NASA astronauts launch outer space flight”). In an evident attempt to be cute, the phrase “This little scientist…” introduces the figures and has the effect of demeaning the women, people of color, and people with disabilities depicted. The art, like others in the This Little series, features bobbleheaded caricatures of each figure in bold colors. The final two pages present 17 additional scientists in portraiture from throughout history and around the world and a brief caption, with a blank space left open for “You!”

A mismatch in every way. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0108-2

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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This Little is both too little and too early to do justice to these important lives.

THIS LITTLE DREAMER

AN INSPIRATIONAL PRIMER

From the This Little series

A board-book introduction to 10 workers for social justice.

The first double-page spread shows the five men and five women to be featured. Subsequent spreads include a close-up portrait and four-line verse opposite an illustration meant to demonstrate each inspirational figure’s work. A two- or three-line caption reduces the complex work of people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to vague platitudes. “Mahatma Gandhi led the people of India to freedom from being ruled by Great Britain” is woefully inadequate. Even so, the concept is still far beyond the board-book audience’s understanding. How to communicate to toddlers the work of Henry Bergh, ASPCA founder, or Dr. Jim Yong Kim, 12th chair of the World Bank? (Answer: He “works to help poor countries succeed.”) Dolores Huerta was chosen to represent the United Farm Workers, but including Cesar Chavez in her caption diminishes her role. Brief bios and portraits of 17 additional activists and a blank space labeled “You!” under the headline “Kindness, sharing, speaking out, fair play— / what could you do to help others someday?” complete the book. The bobblehead art, similar to other books in the This Little series, sometimes borders on offensive caricature.

This Little is both too little and too early to do justice to these important lives. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4291-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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