Despite the clipped content, a bilingual board-book biography about a person of color is a welcome addition.

PELÉ

A compact biography of the legendary Brazilian soccer player.

On the verso, one-sentence facts, in clear Spanish and English, are doled out to readers opposite a full-page scene from Pelé’s life on the recto. Though voiced straightforwardly, many of the facts are interesting, such as that Pelé learned the game from his father using a ball made from a sock stuffed with newspaper. Others pieces of information feel incomplete, such as that Pelé was named after Thomas Edison—Edson Arantes do Nascimento—but readers never learn how he got the unique nickname by which he is known. In both the English and the Spanish texts, one key vocabulary word is printed in a bold and bright type, but some of the word selections are not obvious for toddler readers, who don’t know much about him (beautiful and bonito are set in boldface because that is the word Pelé used to describe the game, for instance). Simple cartoon people with slightly oversized heads are featured in the scenes of Pelé’s life, but, along with his teammates, Pelé never looks like he is older than age 12 even when he joins Brazil’s national team or he is surrounded by a diverse group of children he is teaching. Likely the most successful illustration is the gallery resembling a hall-of-fame exhibit highlighting Pelé’s achievement of scoring over 1,000 goals in his career.

Despite the clipped content, a bilingual board-book biography about a person of color is a welcome addition. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947971-53-0

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Lil' Libros

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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While it is (mostly) an appropriately simple introduction to the sport, the lack of player diversity is discouraging, if not...

LET'S PLAY BASEBALL

From the Let's Play series

A baseball-shaped primer for the littlest sluggers.

Brimming with baseball facts, each round page presents heavily captioned photos and one or two sentences of declarative text. Baseball vocabulary abounds, and little ones can learn the names of the equipment, the positions, various kinds of pitches (“The pitch can be a curveball, slider, fastball, or sinker”), and a few different rules (“If the batter hits the ball, they run to first base”). In the photos, almost all the players, who have a range of hair lengths and look as though they could be both male and female, are white. The final double-page spread shows two different celebratory shots of two apparently all-white Little League teams, with nary a person of color in sight. The small trim size is approximately 5 inches in diameter, which confines the little action that is portrayed, and the narrow binding will likely not survive robust play or library circulation.

While it is (mostly) an appropriately simple introduction to the sport, the lack of player diversity is discouraging, if not out-and-out astonishing. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0399-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A mismatch in every way.

THIS LITTLE SCIENTIST

A DISCOVERY PRIMER

From the This Little series

An introduction to 10 scientists for the youngest readers.

Each historical or modern figure is featured on their own double-page spread, which includes a close-up portrait and rhyming couplets on the verso, and the facing page features the scientist in action and a caption of a sentence or two offering more information about their work but often written at a level far beyond the board-book audience’s developmental capacity. The usual suspects are here, including Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, but women and scientists of color can also be found, such as naturalist and painter Maria Sibylla Merian and particle physicist Sau Lan Wu. The verse is strained, forced, and often doesn’t scan (for Katherine Johnson: “This little scientist got the math right / to help NASA astronauts launch outer space flight”). In an evident attempt to be cute, the phrase “This little scientist…” introduces the figures and has the effect of demeaning the women, people of color, and people with disabilities depicted. The art, like others in the This Little series, features bobbleheaded caricatures of each figure in bold colors. The final two pages present 17 additional scientists in portraiture from throughout history and around the world and a brief caption, with a blank space left open for “You!”

A mismatch in every way. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0108-2

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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