Information overload for toddlers.

READ REVIEW

PHYSICS ANIMATED!

Too much, too soon?

In this newest example of a board book aimed at parents intent on turning tots into overachieving science prodigies when they’re barely out of diapers, Isaac Newton discovers that “everything could be explained by three simple laws.” What follows is a mess of true science accompanied by artwork with movable elements that illustrates with varying degrees of clarity the scientific principles in question. Unfortunately, the material is poorly contextualized for toddlers. Even Isaac Newton is confusing. With his round face, long gray hair, and ruffled sleeves, he’s likely to be misidentified as someone’s kindly old grandmother. As children have no knowledge of 17th- and 18th-century fashion, simply calling him “Sir,” the title he eventually earned, might have helped eliminate confusion, but Jorden doesn’t take that route. Then there’s the science. Various laws of physics are stated whole, as they might be introduced in a junior high school or high school science class. The illustrations do illustrate each point, but expecting children to relate these dry statements of scientific fact to what’s going on in the pictures seems an overreach. The book ignores the opportunity to tie Newton’s observations to children’s natural curiosity. Often, the exposition presents concepts in terms that themselves require definition, adding to the confusion.

Information overload for toddlers. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64170-132-7

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.

SHARKS

From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Clear, simple, fun, and delightfully age-appropriate.

BABY PALEONTOLOGIST

From the Baby Scientist series

Science for toddlers and preschoolers done right.

The current obsession for STEM education, often prioritized over teaching critical-thinking skills and cultivating an awareness of those parts of the human experience that make life fulfilling, has spawned a whole genre of board books for children. This “get ’em while they’re young” approach has spawned some misfires, which often seem designed to please pushy parents trying to produce the next Einstein rather than to satisfy a young learner’s natural curiosity. This book neatly evades that trap. It’s delightful, with a logic and clarity in articulation; bright, colorful, and uncluttered artwork; and concerning a topic that’s a proven kid-pleaser: dinosaurs. Beginning with a few simple declarative sentences, the writing flows naturally toward ever more complex ideas in a way that never goes over young heads: “Who studies fossils? Baby Paleontologist does! / Every fossil tells a story. Fossils tell the stories of plants and animals that lived long ago.” Any caregiver who has ever been asked “why” over and over should appreciate the easy pace of presentation. “Baby has fun putting together puzzles. What did this dinosaur look like? Baby Paleontologist puts the bones together just like a puzzle.” Presenting new and potentially complicated ideas in a way a young audience can understand is a puzzle in itself; here, mercifully, the pieces fit easily and naturally together.

Clear, simple, fun, and delightfully age-appropriate. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-284135-3

Page Count: 22

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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