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From the Little Naturalist series

Appropriate for nature-loving tots, but don’t expect them to learn too much about the naturalist

Learn about birds through the lens of John James Audubon.

Part of the Little Naturalists series, this entry reimagines Audubon’s paintings as accessible cartoon-style drawings. Mimicking the dramatic poses and simple, natural settings that defined the iconic painter, the flat, stylized versions do retain some essence of Audubon’s art. These bold versions have rounded bodies, thickly outlined in brown and filled with a minimal palette of matte, earthy colors like straw and sky-blue. Rhyming text in a predictable pattern begins with “He painted…” and ends with a bird-related term such as “NESTS” and “LEGS” printed in an outsized typeset that’s complementary to the colors of the picture opposite. As an early introduction to the avian world, the likable rhymes and clean, stylish illustrations work. As an introduction to Audubon? That’s dicier. Besides the bird poses and a short blurb on the back cover, the painter feel less like an integral part of the text than an adult-centric name check. An equally attractive companion title about John Muir similarly suffers. Though it delves slightly deeper into his life and work, and Muir’s appearance in the art makes it resemble a proper biography, only adult readers with a deep familiarity with Muir’s writings will make any kind of deeper connection from the short rhymes.

Appropriate for nature-loving tots, but don’t expect them to learn too much about the naturalist . (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4236-5151-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Simultaneously iconic, well-meaning, and developmentally inappropriate.

Yes, Billie Jean King, Dr. Mae Jemison, and Malala Yousafzai were all babies at one time.

On each recto, there is a flap with the picture of a grown-up feminist icon. When the flap is opened, readers see a baby picture of this individual in a scene that includes an item that was visible through a die-cut hole. Grown-up Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lace collar turns into baby Ruth’s bib, and both adult Frida Kahlo and baby Frida wear flowers in their hair. The patterned text is a series of simple reverse-order statements, each of which starts on the verso and finishes beneath the flap with a repeated refrain: “Before she imagined peace, Yoko Ono was… / a baby.” Walker adeptly creates recognizable images of well-known figures, but the expansive, cream-colored backgrounds dwarf and isolate many of the babes under the flaps. While empowering young girls is a worthy goal, the historical significance of these figures is likely to be lost on youngsters who are still learning the meanings of yesterday and today. The disembodied raised fists of adult Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes in their famous Esquire magazine photo and the baby-sized counterpart fists are particularly confusing. The four concluding double-page spreads consist of a review of the figures who have come before, some encouragement to follow in their footsteps, and a one- to two-sentence biography of each.

Simultaneously iconic, well-meaning, and developmentally inappropriate. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-48010-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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From the This Little series

A mismatch in every way.

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. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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