Given the plethora of similar titles, rate this an O for overdone and opt for a better one, such as Ramon Olivera’s ABCs on...

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DIG DIG DIGGING ABC

Kids seem to have an innate fascination with machinery, and this alphabet of vehicles will challenge them to name 26 and pair them with their corresponding letters of the alphabet.

In concept, this is nothing new, but it’s Ayliffe’s execution that makes this one stand out—but not necessarily in a great way. Intensely saturated colors bleed off the pages, overpowering the simple shapes that lack line definitions and featureless faces (just dots for eyes). From “Ambulance,” “Bulldozer,” and “Crane” to “Yacht” and “Zooming Rocket,” the text glossing each moving vehicle emphasizes activities or signature sounds and is typeset in ever larger fonts to lift the excitement. J is for “Jumbo Jet / Enormous jumbo jet / roar, roar, roaring. / Over fields and buildings, / up…upsoaring!” Exemplars that are out of the ordinary include “Narrow Boat” (revealed in the illustration to be a British canal boat), “Quad Bike” (which many American readers will recognize as an ATV), and “Velodrome Track Bike”; X stands for the “EXtra Big Wheels” of a monster truck. San-serif lower- and uppercases are highlighted in the upper corners. There are a few double-page spreads, but most letters have one page with no segues between them. Kids familiar with themed alphabet books and enraptured with toy vehicles will enjoy repeating the sound effects and guessing what vehicle comes next despite the misleading cover that hints that all of the machines dig.

Given the plethora of similar titles, rate this an O for overdone and opt for a better one, such as Ramon Olivera’s ABCs on Wheels (2016). (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-516-6

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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 promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity.

STARRY SKIES

LEARN ABOUT THE CONSTELLATIONS ABOVE US

Young earthlings turn starry skies into playscapes in this first look at constellations.

On a page first glimpsed through a big die-cut hole in the front cover, Chagollan promises that stars “tell a thousand stories.” She goes on to describe brief scenarios in which residents of Earth interact with 15 Northern Hemisphere constellations. These range from Benjamin’s battle with a fierce dragon beneath Draco to a trio of unnamed ducklings who use the Swan to “find their way home.” Six further starry clusters bearing only labels are crowded into the final spread. In illustrations composed of thin white lines on matte black backgrounds (the characters formed by the stars are glossy), Aye colors significant stars yellow, connects them with dots, and encloses them in outlines of mythological figures that are as simply drawn as the animals and humans (and mermaid) below. As a practical introduction, this has little to offer budding sky watchers beyond a limited set of constellations—two, the Big Dipper and the Summer Triangle, are not official constellations at all but classified as asterisms—that are inconsistently labeled in Latin or English or both. Despite a closing invitation to go out and “find these stars in the sky,” the book provides no sky maps or verbal guidelines that would make that actually possible.

A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63322-509-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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