CERCA / CLOSE

A bilingual Spanish/English spatial-awareness concept book.

Herrera—U.S. poet laureate from 2015 to 2017—introduces the concept of proximity in a series of simple statements that start with a child getting ready to go out and end with the child approaching a friend’s house. The statements are presented first in Spanish followed by italicized English, effectively normalizing the Spanish. “Mi cuarto está cerca de la cocina. / My bedroom is close to the kitchen.” Gómez’s color-saturated illustrations portray a child in a jaunty striped T-shirt and two cute pigtails proceeding from bedroom to kitchen to door, daisies, apple tree, horses, and, finally, the friend’s house. By breaking up the journey into incremental “cerca / close” steps the author brings the close friendship into focus. Companion volume Lejos / Far starts with the same two characters under a lemon tree, with the friend—now the main character—looking back to the house in the distance. This time the emphasis is on places that are far: from lemon tree to house, city, ocean, and mountains. As the child walks in the mountains holding a caregiver’s hand, clouds can be seen far above, and further than that is the sun: “El sol brilla sobre mí. / The sun shines over me.” Both the children and the adult have brown skin and black hair.

Quiet, simple, and sweet. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9062-5

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A cheery board book to reinforce the oneness of babykind.

BABIES AROUND THE WORLD

Ten babies in 10 countries greet friends in almost 10 languages.

Countries of origin are subtly identified. For example, on the first spread, NYC is emblazoned on a blond, white baby’s hat as well as a brown baby’s scoot-car taxi. On the next spread, “Mexico City” is written on a light brown toddler’s bike. A flag in each illustration provides another hint. However, the languages are not named, so on first reading, the fine but important differences between Spanish and Portuguese are easily missed. This is also a problem on pages showing transliterated Arabic from Cairo and Afrikaans from Cape Town. Similarly, Chinese and Japanese are transliterated, without use of traditional hànzì or kanji characters. British English is treated as a separate language, though it is, after all, still English. French (spoken by 67 million people) is included, but German, Russian, and Hindi (spoken by 101 million, 145 million, and 370 million respectively) are not. English translations are included in a slightly smaller font. This world survey comes full circle, ending in San Francisco with a beige baby sleeping in an equally beige parent’s arms. The message of diversity is reinforced by images of three babies—one light brown, one medium brown, one white—in windows on the final spread.

A cheery board book to reinforce the oneness of babykind. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-938093-87-6

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Duo Press

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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More information than toddlers will sit still for; not enough for preschoolers who are outgrowing board books.

MY BODY

From the Hello World! series

An introduction to the body for the youngest readers.

It’s an endlessly fascinating topic, but here it is explained in wordy and needlessly exclamatory detail. On the opening spread three children play: One flies a kite, another plays hopscotch, and a third hangs upside down from a branch while the text explains that “your body can do so many things!” Basic facts about each body part are explained on subsequent spreads—more or less. A spread devoted to the belly button gives no hint to its original purpose. A busy park scene with all the characters and summary text that emphasizes the importance of “Lots of sleep, good food, and plenty of exercise” ends this compendium. McDonald’s attempts to be inclusive don’t quite succeed. A brown-skinned boy playing wheelchair basketball is used to explain arm joints, and there are several other children of color in the book. But on the page about hearing, the brown-skinned tot’s prominent ears and his placement in a tree make him look more like a monkey than a child—an unfortunate association. Many spreads include a question that relates to the topic but could also prove distracting. An additional fact on each spread set in a smaller font is clearly for older children or grown-ups, not toddlers.

More information than toddlers will sit still for; not enough for preschoolers who are outgrowing board books. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6636-8

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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