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...

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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As a parable of gender nonconformity this is too disjointed to work. Don’t bother.

MY SHADOW IS PINK

A young boy accepts his unusual shadow.

In this world, everyone has a sentient, self-directed shadow that represents their innermost self. The White, floppy-haired main character explains that his shadow “is quite different, it’s not what you think.” Most of the shadows in his family are blue, but his is pink and “loves…princesses, fairies, and things ‘not for boys.’ ” In awkward rhyming couplets the narrator anxiously awaits the first day of school, where all of his apparently mixed-gender classmates seem to have blue shadows. When he's instructed (via a rhyming note) to wear his shadow’s “favourite thing” to school, he arrives in a tutu—then runs home when everyone stares at him. His father, a burly masculine triangle of a man and also White, dons a pink hooded dress in solidarity to escort his son back to school, and all is well. The central conceit of this story leaves many questions unsatisfyingly unanswered: Many girl-presenting classmates have blue shadows, so how are shadow colors assigned at birth? How can a person’s shadow have a discrete sexual orientation? Why use rhyming couplets when they lead to tortured constructions like “I join a small group, though in I don’t blend”? (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 20.8% of actual size.)

As a parable of gender nonconformity this is too disjointed to work. Don’t bother. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-648-72875-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Larrikin House/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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