LITTLE SMUDGE

Rightly opening with nods to Matisse, Miró and Leo Lionni, this tale of an irregular newcomer who turns initially hostile geometric forms into friends, by teaching them how to change shape, glows with color and movement. Primed by his parents, Little Smudge—“Petite Tache” in the original, and actually more of a sharply defined black blot than a hazy smudge—goes back to a group of squares and triangles, and after demonstrating his ability to turn into a huge, toothy monster, “tells them how to transform themselves.” Readers who want to know just what Little Smudge says will be disappointed, but will still enjoy seeing the new playmates all expand, go blobby and ultimately turn into Miró-ishly modernist human figures, before reluctantly dispersing for the night. Le Néouanic sends small, simple figures dancing across large expanses of creamy white space, around lines of text that themselves change size and shape. An appealing shelfmate for similar essays in transformation, from Lionni’s Little Blue and Little Yellow, or Charles Shaw’s classic It Looked Like Spilt Milk, to Lois Ehlert’s early works. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2006

ISBN: 1-905417-22-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2006

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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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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