A simple book paves the way for complicated concepts.

WHERE ARE YOU LITTLE RED BALL?

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)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-926890-12-8

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Tradewind Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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While the ghoulies here are more cute than scary, “jump,” “quiver,” and “run” will probably get across the idea to even the...

HALLOWEEN ABC

An abecedary of spooky or autumnal delights for the littlest readers.

Each letter of the alphabet is highlighted on a single page, the upper- and lowercase letters appearing in the upper left-hand corner, while the object is named at the bottom or in the upper right. Ho keeps her illustrations simple and places them against plain, brightly colored backgrounds, keeping them accessible to those still learning about Halloween’s many icons. The almost-fluorescent orange cover is sure to attract attention, and the palette of black, purple, orange, yellow, and radioactive green enhances the Halloween mood. But while many of the chosen items will be expected—bats, ghost, haunted house, owl, skeleton, vampire, witch, zombie—others are rather odd choices. J is for “jump,” not jack-o’-lantern (“pumpkin” is illustrated with a jack-o’-lantern); K is for a mostly black “kitten” standing in a coffin; and N is for “nightmare,” which is virtually impossible to express visually for this age group without provoking said nightmare. Here, a lavender-skinned child (zombie?) in pajamas and nightcap has arms raised and mouth open wide in surprise—perhaps in response to the mummy across the gutter? The tough letters use “quiver,” spider-decorated “underpants” on a monster, and “extra treats,” the x underlined.

While the ghoulies here are more cute than scary, “jump,” “quiver,” and “run” will probably get across the idea to even the youngest listeners that Halloween can be scary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9527-9

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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There is always room in the Easter basket for a counting book, and many readers may appreciate having another simple,...

TEN EASTER EGGS

A cheerful brown bunny hiding behind the edges of an Easter basket looks just as surprised as young children will be to find the chicks revealed as each egg “hatches.”

With help from a reading partner, young children are encouraged to count down the eggs as they disappear with each page turn. Alternatively, they can count up as the chicks are revealed. A simple phrase at the top of each right-hand page states the number of eggs in the basket. The line at the bottom (half of a rhyming couplet) tells how many chicks readers should look for. The numbers are spelled out, requiring young children to recognize the word instead of the more familiar numeral. On the left-hand page, the spaces previously occupied by an egg begin to fill with meadow plants and critters, eventually becoming a scene as busy and cheerful as a greeting card. This book begs to be touched. Each egg is made of shaped plastic that protrudes through die-cut holes on the verso; they can be pressed but seem to be securely anchored. The pastel chicks are lightly flocked, providing an additional tactile experience. Although the pages are thicker than paper, young fingers may find the holes a convenient way to grip (and possibly tear) the pages.

There is always room in the Easter basket for a counting book, and many readers may appreciate having another simple, nonreligious holiday book. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-74730-1

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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