These simple, nonfiction titles are a nice way to get little ones interested in sports and excited to give them a try.

READ REVIEW

MY FIRST BASKETBALL BOOK

From the First Sports series

This nonfiction board book introduces basketball concepts to the sport’s newest fans.

Bright and appealing photographs are combined with words and phrases to illustrate basketball-related items, actions, and ideas. The words range from the simple, such as “basket,” “shoes,” and “referee,” to the more complex, like “steal,” “defend,” and “rebound.” The photographs are somewhat helpful in defining the terms, but a photograph alone cannot explain a concept like “rebound,” so adults reading this to the board-book crowd should prepare to do as much explaining as their little listeners require. Some tykes may be prompted to ask many questions; others will just be inspired to find the nearest ball and start practicing their shots. Boy and girl children are the featured players in the photographs. The majority appear to be Caucasian, though there is some racial diversity in both the children and adult helpers pictured. Simultaneously published titles on football, baseball, and soccer follow the same format, and the four work well as a set.

These simple, nonfiction titles are a nice way to get little ones interested in sports and excited to give them a try. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1487-7

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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This will have readers putting on their dancing shoes to do the “cha cha cha” with their dino-babies

DINOSAUR DANCE!

It's not the first time dinosaurs have been featured in a clever Boynton board book. It seems she—and we—can't get enough.

As her fans know, Boynton has a sly wit that respects the intelligence of her young fans and amuses the adults asked to “read it again.” In this book she introduces nine dinosaurs, each of which dances in a way that seems totally appropriate for that particular species. “The blue Stegosaurus goes SHIMMY SHIMMY SHAKE. / The red Brontosaurus goes QUIVERY QUAKE.” Drawing on her experience as a children’s musician, she writes a text that trips along like a song with rhymes that make sense but don't intrude. The illustrations, typical Boynton, reflect her greeting-card background. They are cartoonish but manage to capture the unique personality of each creature. The unnamed dinosaur narrator looks genuinely distraught at not being able to name the “tiny little dino” that “goes DEEDLY DEE.” Spoiler alert: the tiny little dinosaur is probably Compsognathus and would be about the size of a small chicken. Young dinophiles would be impressed if the dinosaurologists in their lives could supply that factoid, but alas, they will have to look it up.

This will have readers putting on their dancing shoes to do the “cha cha cha” with their dino-babies . (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8099-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A welcome addition to the toddler bookshelf.

LEO CAN SWIM

Leo is back (Leo Loves Baby Time, 2014, etc.), and now he happily attends a community swim class with Daddy.

“Leo loves the water. He is like a little fish!” A smiling Leo is in sudsy bath water, his dark, curly head and brown body held up by a pair of strong, brown, adult arms. As the story continues, readers see Leo and Daddy interact lovingly throughout, from sitting together on a big chair—viewing a swim-class brochure—to changing into proper swim attire in the locker room and taking part in a class that features a pool full of other happy baby-and-adult pairs. The range of skin and hair types is commendable, even including one adult-child combination of nonmatching skin. Getting used to the off-center noses of the babies requires a little time—probably more for adults than children. The text has some sentences that will sound delightful to little ears as little eyes view the water babies: “They swish and swoosh. They splish and sploosh.” The tender and competent care given to Leo by his father is reason enough to praise this book. Also, like its predecessor, the codex itself has rounded corners and strong, resilient paper to accommodate its audience. The ending is a bit abrupt, but it parallels babies’ and toddlers’ tendencies to play hard and suddenly run out of energy.

A welcome addition to the toddler bookshelf. (Picture book. 1-3)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58089-725-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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