A visually interesting but disorganized reader that features images from a museum with a problematic history.

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EARLY LEARNING AT THE MUSEUM

From the Early Learning at the Museum series

A vocabulary-building board book featuring artifacts from the collection of the British Museum.

Each item chosen from the museum’s historically and geographically expansive collection is paired with large, bold text, introducing children to representations of each term that hail from a variety of cultures. Along with companion title Animals, it showcases a range of artistic styles, from paintings and prints through plaster of Paris, brass, and wooden sculptures to well-worn household materials. Although the concept behind the curation is interesting, unfortunately, neither this title nor Animals rises above the aesthetic level of a typical board book of its ilk. This title in particular lacks cohesion, as the images are not organized alphabetically or according to theme, as many vocabulary books are, making the images and words feel arbitrary. Several pages feature multiple images that are separated only by bold blocks of color, which creates a cluttered look. Furthermore, a number of the artifacts featured in both books appear to have been made during the pre-independence era in countries that were once part of the British Empire, suggesting that they may have become part of the collection as a result of colonization, a fact that the book’s creators leave disturbingly unaddressed.

A visually interesting but disorganized reader that features images from a museum with a problematic history. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0584-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and...

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THE UNDEFEATED

Past and present are quilted together in this innovative overview of black Americans’ triumphs and challenges in the United States.

Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations chronicling “the unforgettable,” “the undeniable,” “the unflappable,” and “the righteous marching ones,” alongside “the unspeakable” events that shape the history of black Americans. The illustrator layers images of black creators, martyrs, athletes, and neighbors onto blank white pages, patterns pages with the bodies of slaves stolen and traded, and extends a memorial to victims of police brutality like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown past the very edges of a double-page spread. Each movement of Alexander’s poem is a tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of black people in the U.S., with textual references to the writings of Gwendolyn Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X dotting stanzas in explicit recognition and grateful admiration. The book ends with a glossary of the figures acknowledged in the book and an afterword by the author that imprints the refrain “Black. Lives. Matter” into the collective soul of readers, encouraging them, like the cranes present throughout the book, to “keep rising.”

An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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TEN BLACK DOTS

Mr. Crews made an auspicious entrance with We Read: A to Z, which did things with the alphabet that nobody'd done before; this does the same things with numbers that everybody's done before, and better. Counting black dots, one to ten, makes sense only when the dots themselves make sense-first as the objects named, then as elements in the composition, finally as representing a characteristic quantity. Here they're miscast as enormous seeds, misplaced as portholes on the upper decks of a boat and miscalculated (four) as knobs on a radio (an old-fashioned table model). Count this one out.

Pub Date: March 19, 1968

ISBN: 0688135749

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1968

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