Leave this developmentally inappropriate title on the shelf.



From the Baby Loves… series

A board book for the toddlers of Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average.

As with Baby Loves Quarks! (2016) and its series companions, Spiro attempts to explain a topic too complex and abstract for toddlers. The bright-eyed brown-skinned cartoon child on the cover is inviting enough. But it’s hard to imagine the real baby who will be able to follow her example: “Baby takes three steps to the right, three steps forward, and three steps to the left.” The text can tell readers that “This pattern of steps is called an algorithm” when repeated every time the child wants to go to the toy box, but that does not mean babies can understand, much less replicate, the behavior of a computer program. As with many tech-oriented toys designed for gifted tots, a toy train is used to illustrate coding. Later pictures show other machines that rely on unseen computer code to function. There is nothing factually wrong here. And yes, parents and caregivers can follow the book’s example by inserting the language of science and coding in conversation. But 20 pages of oversimplified explanations of theoretical concepts, no matter how attractively packaged, will not translate to understanding until the child is past the concrete-operations stage of development—and even gifted toddlers just aren’t there yet.

Leave this developmentally inappropriate title on the shelf. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-884-3

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Clear, crisp, clean, and concise—trucks and shapes have never before looked (or sounded) this good.


Storytime gets a kick in the pants with this jaunty combo of shapes and vehicles.

In this look at basic geometry via high-resolution photographs of construction trucks, the youngest of readers are introduced to nine different shapes. Using a seek-and-find format, the book encourages them to locate each shape as it appears on a vehicle, clearly delineated with thick, colorful lines. A clear, red triangle decorates the bed of a dump truck; a blue oval surrounds the barrel of a concrete mixer. The rhyming text names the featured equipment, each shot with crystal clarity outdoors on a variety of beautiful days. From the jaunty little red forklift sporting a rectangle on its side to the rhombus of a road sign snapped at an angle, small fingers will have no difficulty tracing each of the featured shapes again and again. Similar in its cadences to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle (1967), this book is ideal for construction storytimes everywhere. “Road roller / Road roller / Coming through! / I spy a circle— / How about you?” Be sure to sing it to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” if you really want to bring down the house. Activities to further engage young children are included at the end of the book.

Clear, crisp, clean, and concise—trucks and shapes have never before looked (or sounded) this good. (Picture book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77278-134-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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You can count on this one to be a bland yet passable learning tool.


Insects and animals help readers count from one through 10.

In this number-focused board book, each themed double-page spread invites readers to practice counting. A cartoon puppy looks down at a scattering of bones, for example, and declares, “I can count NINE bones,” on the left-hand side of one such layout; over the gutter, there is a stock photograph of nine tennis balls and a large 9 along with text inviting readers to count. Each turn of the page follows this pattern, progressing by one number higher. The format is familiar and formulaic, conventional and utilitarian. That said, it serves its purpose of presenting new learners with a clear and recognizable tool for number recognition and counting practice. The cartoons have the impersonal look of clip art, and the photographs presented against a stark white background are simple and repetitive. The number five page, for example, shows five identical turtles as opposed to five different turtles or one turtle in five different positions or environments, a missed opportunity for visual interest. In contrast, companion title My First Colors introduces a color and then shows photographs of different items in that color, displaying more illustrative depth but following the same predictable format. While neither of these books does anything groundbreaking, they do a competent job of presenting these timeless concepts for pre-readers.

You can count on this one to be a bland yet passable learning tool. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4413-3308-7

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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