Enjoyable, though it has the feeling of a retread.

GAME OF GNOMES

The gnome-filled fun continues in this companion book to Mayer and Horton’s charming Go Big or Go Gnome (2017).

Everygnome knows Ginger thanks to her curly red hair, but the spirited lass would rather be known for something else. When her friends Al and Gnorm remind her of the upcoming Winter Gnome Games, Ginger decides to compete to show the other gnomes that she’s much more than just awesome hair. “I can rock this!” The big day comes, and Ginger is ready. She shreds on her sled, she spins and zooms during the figure-skating competition, and she shows off her hockey skills during the curling event. Unfortunately, she doesn’t quite stick to the game rules at each competition. “Disqualified!” cries Englebert, the Grandmaster of the Gnome Games. Even readers not familiar with Mayer and Horton’s previous outing will guess what’s coming next, yet Ginger is likable enough to carry the story through its less-than-inspired second half. When a squirrel takes Al for an unexpected ride, Ginger steps up to save her friend, consequently earning the other gnomes’ respect and admiration (even the cantankerous Englebert’s). Featuring Mayer’s lighthearted narratorial voice, amusing details, and some returning characters, Ginger’s adventure also shares with its predecessor a bare-bones narrative and a nice if dull ending. Meanwhile, Horton’s dynamic illustrations continue to please with a diverse cast of gnomes—though the primary cast is an all-pale one—and scenes full of antics in winter wonderlands.

Enjoyable, though it has the feeling of a retread. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-12394-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A timely message in the wrong format.

TOGETHER

This book delivers a message on the power of collective action.

As the book opens, a child looks at a lone star shining in the sky: “One star shines as distant light.” After the turn of the page, the child now sees what looks like the Milky Way: “And when stars shine together, they make our galaxy.” The book goes on to give a number of similar examples to reinforce the message of the power that comes from working together, ending with: “One of us can speak up for justice / And when we speak up together we create a world of possibility.” In the current atmosphere of strife and discord that divides our country, this is certainly a welcome message. Perhaps, though, the board-book set is not the right audience. As a picture book aimed at a slightly older group with an information page at the end explaining some of the illustrations, it might work well. As it is, however, some of the visual references will merely puzzle a toddler—and some adults. For example, a group of angry-looking people raising their fists and singing together may not look like “harmony” to a toddler—unless they know about the New Zealand haka. There is an unexplained frog motif that runs through the book that may also mystify readers. Nagara’s brilliant illustrations portray people of many ethnic backgrounds.

A timely message in the wrong format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64421-084-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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