A little boy learns to read.
A black boy sits on a big comfy chair, looking at the book in his lap. “I wish I could read,” he says, and thus begins this board book. Letter by letter and word by word the boy pieces together the book, proud of his accomplishment by book’s end. The book’s intentions are good, but like so many books about the magic of reading, the story is bland. The child’s determination is appealing, but the highly conceptual images (the boy appears four separate times in one spread that has him interacting with giant alphabet blocks and in another struggles to turn the pages of a giant picture book) provide little reality to anchor child readers not yet ready for metafictive outings. Since the pictures are therefore difficult to decode, there is little left beyond the “reading is fun” message—a message that is undercut by the fact that this book may not, in fact, be all that much fun for toddlers not ready for the images.
The book’s heart is in the right place, but unfortunately its presentation is not. (Board book. 2-3)