FUTURE ENGINEER

From the Future Baby series

A book about engineering notable mostly for its illustrations of diverse characters. (Board book. 1-3)

Babies and engineers have more in common than you think.

In this book, Alexander highlights the unlikely similarities between babies and engineers. Like engineers, babies ask questions, enjoy building, and learn from their mistakes. Black’s bold, colorful illustrations feature diverse babies and both male- and female-presenting adult characters with a variety of skin tones and hair colors, effectively demonstrating that engineers can be any race or either gender. (Nonbinary models are a little harder to see.) The story ends with a reassurance to the babies in the book that “We believe in you!” presumably implying that any child can be an engineer. The end pages include facts about different kinds of engineers and the basic process used by all engineers in their work. Although the book opens with a rhythmic rhyming couplet, the remaining text lacks the same structure and pattern, making it less entertaining to read. Furthermore, while some of the comparisons between babies and engineers are both clever and apt, others—such as the idea that babies know where to look for answers—are flimsier. The book ends with a text-heavy spread of facts about engineering that, bereft of illustrations, may not hold children’s attention as well as the previous pages. Despite these flaws, on its best pages, the book is visually stimulating, witty, and thoughtful.

A book about engineering notable mostly for its illustrations of diverse characters. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31223-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

SHAPES ALL AROUND

Don’t judge this book by its cover; there’s an unusual concept and whimsical illustrations hiding underneath

A series of solid shapes substitute for natural objects in this board book that is somewhere between concept book and riddle game.

What’s that shape supposed to be? Running across a rust-brown labeled triangle, amid trees and elk, the text “Climb a TRIANGLE to the top” suggests the shape is a mountain; in an ocean scene with a red “STAR washed in on the waves,” the shape implies a sea star. Ample visual cues give young readers enough context to guess what the shape evokes, with some unexpected touches, such as “HEXAGON” printed on hexagonal honeycombs buzzing with bees and surrounded by golden flowers. Short, commanding sentences keep things humming, but with only six shapes covered, the book feels all too brief. Illustrator Devernay combines delicate pencil line drawings and sketchy gray-black shading with tiny, meticulously cut colored-paper collage to create her plants and animals. The most intimate drawings amaze. Close-ups of smooth stones are so appealing that readers will long to pick one up and “rub a smooth OVAL between thumb and finger.” Sadly, the cover doesn’t do the interior justice, and things get murky when several hues mix there and on the final spread. But on other spreads, where there’s a single color, it pops against the gray, such as the minute yellow beaks on the flock of charcoal birds circling the yellow “CIRCLE” sun.

Don’t judge this book by its cover; there’s an unusual concept and whimsical illustrations hiding underneath . (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-56846-317-9

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

WHERE DO YOU POOP?

A fun, new take on droppings.

Youngsters can learn about where and how various animals, domestic and wild, relieve themselves.

Via a pull-tab embedded in each recto (not, thankfully, in the rectum) readers can see the before and after, and a goldfish in a bowl leaves a trail while swimming. The verso asks each creature where it does its business, and then a (sometimes-forced) rhyming quatrain, translated from Italian, answers the question: “And where do YOU poop, mouse? / When inside my tummy / Starts to feel not so good / It’s time for a poop / On these chips made of wood!” The final double-page spread queries readers: “And where do YOU poop?” A redheaded, White toddler’s face is visible below this question; the pull-tab on the right opens a bathroom to reveal a White toddler, this time with medium brown hair, happily and modestly sitting on a blue toddler potty. The accompanying quatrain provides some developmentally appropriate guidance for feeling the signs of a movement coming on. Baruzzi’s art is droll and graphically clean (inasmuch as the depiction of excrement can be described that way). Little fingers may need some help finding the relatively easy-to-open and sturdy pull-tabs, since they blend into each page. It works as both a biology lesson and potty-training encouragement.  

A fun, new take on droppings. (Novelty board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66265-042-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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