A little red ball tries out a variety of identities before finding its true calling—maybe.
This deceptively simple-looking book challenges its young audience to conceptualize transformation and identity. The second-person text addresses a series of questions to the titular ball, one per double-page spread. “What are you doing there Little Red Ball? / Are you a ball to play with? / Are you an apple hanging from an apple tree?” In the first, the little red ball appears on the very right edge, at the end of a straight, dashed line that extends across the spread indicating movement. As the pages turn, the dashed line becomes a series of arcs indicating bounces—through a basketball hoop, off a baseball bat and then a ping-pong paddle—and then disappears altogether as the ball is transformed into an apple hanging from a branch. After further transformations, the ball is revealed to be the nose of Manolo the Clown—at least temporarily, as the final spread reprises the first. The compositions are simple, as is the mostly black, white, and red palette. It’s a tremendously sophisticated conceit for a board book, but toddlers will see how one basic shape—a circle—can be found in many different contexts, and the second-person address can help lay the groundwork for understanding individuation later on.
A simple book paves the way for complicated concepts. (Board book. 2-4)