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From the First Science Storybook series

On the surface, a simple story of a fox; with help from an older reader, an intriguing visual representation of a beginning...

Jenkins and Smythe follow a fox’s search for food and introduce the concepts of light and dark to the very young.

As day turns to night, a fox comes out of her den. She is hungry. She steps cautiously down the path, looking for food. Jenkins acknowledges the fox’s keen eyesight (“She has sharp eyes…”) but in setting up the science-concept theme, mentions something that rings a bit untrue: “…but she still finds it hard to see when it is dark.” Dim light is indeed needed for his exploration of the theme, but the simplicity of the sentence downplays a fox’s nocturnal prowess. Regardless, moonlight, streetlights, car headlights, firelight, and flashlight beams all penetrate the night while the fox is on the hunt. Smythe’s saturated mixed-media illustrations punctuate the dusky blackness with pockets of bright spots to reinforce the lesson. Frontmatter reminds adult readers of themes to discuss: “Moonlight is light from the sun that has bounced off the moon.” Backmatter poses discussion questions: “Can you find examples of different light sources in the book?” A simple index, a trademark of the series, closes the book.

On the surface, a simple story of a fox; with help from an older reader, an intriguing visual representation of a beginning science theme. (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9883-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.

The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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