Once there was a squarish book, of simple color photographs of familiar nursery objects, that endured for decades because it was so unequivocally and unsurpassingly a first book. These two squarish, heavy cardboard volumes (with rounded corners, on the side of the opening) are in that line of descent—the more outstanding (and rudimentary) because Hoban plumps a single object in bright primary colors—sock, sneaker, bib—in the middle of each page of What Is It? and the simplest, most natural of multiples—five fingers, four quarters of an orange—on each page of 1, 2, 3. The latter, indeed, begins with a single candle on a birthday cake—this is a book for children at that age—and follows, in a cross-reference to What Is It?, with two sneakers. Many libraries of course steer clear of board books—and there'd be no place to put a pocket except on the back cover. But for display, or for the diversion of visiting tots, it's worth considering—while parents, caretakers, and kin will seize upon the books—especially 1, 2, 3: a looking-and-learning knockout with its red numerals, number-words, and dots-to-count.

Pub Date: March 1, 1985

ISBN: 068802579X

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1985

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A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist.


This follow-up to How To Read a Story (2005) shows a child going through the steps of creating a story, from choosing an idea through sharing with friends.

A young black child lies in a grassy field writing in a journal, working on “Step 1 / Search for an Idea— / a shiny one.” During a walk to the library, various ideas float in colorful thought bubbles, with exclamation points: “playing soccer! / dogs!” Inside the library, less-distinct ideas, expressed as shapes and pictures, with question marks, float about as the writer collects ideas to choose from. The young writer must then choose a setting, a main character, and a problem for that protagonist. Plotting, writing with detail, and revising are described in child-friendly terms and shown visually, in the form of lists and notes on faux pieces of paper. Finally, the writer sits in the same field, in a new season, sharing the story with friends. The illustrations feature the child’s writing and drawing as well as images of imagined events from the book in progress bursting off the page. The child’s main character is an adventurous mermaid who looks just like the child, complete with afro-puff pigtails, representing an affirming message about writing oneself into the world. The child’s family, depicted as black, moves in the background of the setting, which is also populated by a multiracial cast.

A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5666-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A festive invitation to creative liberation.


A pleasingly tactile exploration of the possibilities inherent in mistakes.

"A torn piece of paper... / is just the beginning!" Spills, folded paper, drips of paint, smudges and smears—they "all can make magic appear." An increasingly complex series of scenarios celebrates random accidents, encouraging artistic experimentation rather than discouragement. The folded-over paper can be a penguin's head; a torn piece of newsprint can turn into a smiling dog with a little application of paint; a hot-chocolate stain can become a bog for a frog. Thanks to a telescoping pop-up, a hole is filled with nearly limitless possibilities. The interactive elements work beautifully with the photo-collaged "mistakes," never overwhelming the intent with showiness. Saltzberg's trademark cartoon animals provide a sweetly childlike counterpoint to the artful scribbles and smears of gloppy paint.

A festive invitation to creative liberation. (Pop-up. 4-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7611-5728-1

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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