Overreaches and oversimplifies at the same time.

READ REVIEW

BOTANY FOR BABIES

From the Baby 101 series

Another attempt to simplify a complex topic for babies or toddlers.

From the first, Elliott’s stylized plants all have the look of the plants children draw in kindergarten—cheerful, but not scientifically accurate—and seem calculated to emphasize a sense of bounty rather than order. One spread is littered with seeds, but only seven are labeled—unless some are rocks or pebbles? Three following spreads try to explain the difference between roots and shoots, utilizing cross-section views to illustrate belowground growth. Without using the term, photosynthesis is summarized: “Leaves use sunlight to create energy and food for plants to grow.” Similarly, the statement “Bees take pollen from flower to flower so the plants can make seeds” just scratches the surface. The picture of a smiling oversized bee accumulating pollen at the bottoms of all six feet does little to clarify. After a discussion of fruit and fruit seeds, the final spread shows two children (a child of color and a white-presenting child) gazing in amazement at a flower bud that blooms when a flap is lifted. Altogether a confusing disappointment, making this an unfortunate outlier in the Baby 101 series. Zoology for Babies, published simultaneously, is more successful. The topic is more familiar, and animals are more easily sorted by common features and habitat. Just don’t believe its ending proclamation, “Now you’re a zoologist!”

Overreaches and oversimplifies at the same time. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-64878-9

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Good intentions gone wrong.

BABY LOVES GRAVITY!

From the Baby Loves… series

A baby and a dog discover gravity in this appealingly illustrated, developmentally inappropriate book.

This and Baby Loves Coding are the latest offerings in the Baby Loves Science series of board books. These cute but overzealous attempts to create STEM students from children fresh from the womb seem aimed more at pushy parents than at doctoral candidates in diapers. Previous volumes have featured toddlers who love quarks, aerospace engineering, thermodynamics, and quantum physics. The contents of this book have been vetted for scientific accuracy; one wonders whether the creative team also vetted the practical value of teaching preschoolers to parrot answers to questions they’re ill-equipped to pose or indeed comprehend: “Why does a noodle fall? / Because of gravity!” Babies will have observed the central action this book presents—the fall to the floor of some tidbit from their highchair trays—over and over, but does “When Baby drops something, the earth pulls it down” adequately describe the phenomenon? For a toddler audience, even simple explanations of the science in this book require more exposition than board books allow and raise more questions than they answer. “Everything is made of matter. The amount of matter is called mass.” OK, what is matter? And if gravity makes spaghetti fall to Earth, why does it make the moon go around it? The baby has brown skin and tightly curled black hair.

Good intentions gone wrong. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-836-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.

SHARKS

From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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