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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This Little is both too little and too early to do justice to these important lives.

THIS LITTLE DREAMER

AN INSPIRATIONAL PRIMER

From the This Little series

A board-book introduction to 10 workers for social justice.

The first double-page spread shows the five men and five women to be featured. Subsequent spreads include a close-up portrait and four-line verse opposite an illustration meant to demonstrate each inspirational figure’s work. A two- or three-line caption reduces the complex work of people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to vague platitudes. “Mahatma Gandhi led the people of India to freedom from being ruled by Great Britain” is woefully inadequate. Even so, the concept is still far beyond the board-book audience’s understanding. How to communicate to toddlers the work of Henry Bergh, ASPCA founder, or Dr. Jim Yong Kim, 12th chair of the World Bank? (Answer: He “works to help poor countries succeed.”) Dolores Huerta was chosen to represent the United Farm Workers, but including Cesar Chavez in her caption diminishes her role. Brief bios and portraits of 17 additional activists and a blank space labeled “You!” under the headline “Kindness, sharing, speaking out, fair play— / what could you do to help others someday?” complete the book. The bobblehead art, similar to other books in the This Little series, sometimes borders on offensive caricature.

This Little is both too little and too early to do justice to these important lives. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4291-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Serviceable, reasonably toddler-friendly fare.

POP-UP OCEAN

Denizens of the deep in diminutive 3-D displays.

Arranged in a seemingly arbitrary sequence, the 15 figures popping up, one per spread, in this small, square volume include some dolllike humans or human artifacts but are mostly very simply rendered sea animals sporting smiles and big eyes. All feature one- or two-word identifiers and hover above monochrome backgrounds enhanced, sometimes, with a simple nautical detail. The pop-ups, constructed largely from reverse folds, are designed as static compositions aside from a crab that waves its claws at viewers as the spread opens. Other than a similar but not identical boat and a subway train, the equally simple vehicles in the co-published Pop-Up Things That Go! roll on or fly over dry land. In both books, human figures are all white except for one of three firefighters and a child collecting a cone from the “ice cream van” in Things That Go! (which also places the driver of its bus on the British side).

Serviceable, reasonably toddler-friendly fare. (Pop-up picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0119-2

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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