Beautiful artwork, just enough info, and winning subject matter.

DINOSAURS

From the Little Kids First Board Book series

National Geographic delivers refreshingly realistic, un–Barney-fied dinosaurs for the board-book set.

Dinosaurs are ever popular among kids of all ages, but in the board-book market, they are rarely portrayed with the majesty that makes them so fascinating in the first place. In offering after offering, they’re drawn in cute caricatures or gimmicky, textured renditions that don’t at all suggest a time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. While such renderings are certainly nonthreatening, young readers would be hard-pressed to extrapolate any sense of the primal majesty and scale of these beasts, which have fascinated for generations. Therefore, the colorful, massive reptiles depicted herein, with their armor, horns, plates, talons, and teeth, are a breath of fresh air and a return to honest and untamed portrayals of these fascinating prehistoric beasts. One forgivable conceit employed to reduce the likelihood of nightmares is the occasional word balloon and bad pun: Feathered Scansoriopteryx, for instance, announces, “I’m a real early bird.” The primeval landscapes are lush with vegetation; landscapes and skies feel both alien and familiar. The book features 11 dinosaurs, of which only two, Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex, are familiar favorites. Portraits of dinosaurs in situ alternate with pages naming the dinosaurs shown, with pronunciation and fun facts about the creatures in question (e.g., “Shunosaurus had a very long tail”) and dinosaurs in general.

Beautiful artwork, just enough info, and winning subject matter. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3696-6

Page Count: 26

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Genial starter nonfiction.

THE HUMAN BODY

From the PlayTabs series

Panels activated by sliding tabs introduce youngsters to the human body.

The information is presented in matter-of-fact narration and captioned, graphically simple art featuring rounded lines, oversized heads and eyes, and muted colors. The sliding panels reveal new scenes on both sides of the page, and arrows on the large tabs indicate the direction to pull them (some tabs work left and right and others up and down). Some of the tabs show only slight changes (a white child reaches for a teddy bear, demonstrating how arms and hands work), while others are much more surprising (a different white child runs to a door and on the other side of the panel is shown sitting on the toilet). The double-page spreads employ broad themes as organizers, such as “Your Body,” “Eating Right,” and “Taking Care of Your Body.” Much of the content is focused on the outside of the body, but one panel does slide to reveal an X-ray image of a skeleton. While there are a few dark brown and amber skin tones, it is mostly white children who appear in the pages to demonstrate body movements, self-care, visiting the doctor, senses, and feelings. The companion volume, Baby Animals, employs the same style of sliding panels to introduce youngsters to little critters and their parents, from baboons to penguins.

Genial starter nonfiction. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40800-850-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this.

ABCS OF ART

From “Apple” to “Zebra,” an alphabet of images drawn from museum paintings.

In an exhibition that recalls similar, if less parochial, ABCs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (My First ABC, 2009) and several other institutions, Hahn presents a Eurocentric selection of paintings or details to illustrate for each letter a common item or animal—all printed with reasonable clarity and captioned with identifying names, titles, and dates. She then proceeds to saddle each with an inane question (“What sounds do you think this cat is making?” “Where can you find ice?”) and a clumsily written couplet that unnecessarily repeats the artist’s name: “Flowers are plants that blossom and bloom. / Frédéric Bazille painted them filling up this room!” She also sometimes contradicts the visuals, claiming that the horses in a Franz Marc painting entitled “Two Horses, 1912” are ponies, apparently to populate the P page. Moreover, her “X” is an actual X-ray of a Jean-Honoré Fragonard, showing that the artist repainted his subject’s face…interesting but not quite in keeping with the familiar subjects chosen for the other letters.

Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-4938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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