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LETTERS TO LIVE BY by Lisa Frenkel Riddiough


An Alphabet Book With Intention

by Lisa Frenkel Riddiough ; illustrated by Åsa Gilland

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-7624-7308-3
Publisher: Running Press Kids

Riddiough returns to the alphabet book’s didactic roots with this abecedarian guide on intentional living.

As the text remarks, we all “have the power to make our world a better, happier place.” Each lettered page introduces a different ethical principle in the form of a pithy alliterative imperative: “APPRECIATE ART”; “BECOME BRAVE”; “CHOOSE COMPASSION”; and so forth. The artwork portrays children engaged in simple acts and activities that are practical, relatable examples of each principle or ideal; for example, children can “INVITE IMAGINATION” by cloud-gazing on a sunny day, “VALUE VOLUNTEERING” by helping to clean up a park, and “JOIN FOR JUSTICE” by attending a street protest. A few of these visual object lessons are a bit vague or confusing; for instance, the text advises young readers to “RESIST RUMORS,” but the children pictured in the artwork are actually spreading them. Gilland’s digital illustrations, rendered using a palette dominated by pink and green, are serviceable, if unexciting. They are also inclusive, depicting kids with a variety of skin tones and hair textures, a Black girl wearing a hijab, a White girl using a wheelchair, interracial parents, and same-sex parents. The book ends by telling kids to “Z’S THE DAY,” but this pun may likely fly over the heads of the target audience.

Overt moral instruction for the preschool set may attract occasional interest, but don’t expect kids to read this book on repeat.

(Picture book. 2-4)