Simultaneously iconic, well-meaning, and developmentally inappropriate.

READ REVIEW

BABY FEMINISTS

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. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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