Sometimes simpler is better. Pass on this hurried jumble.


From the Touch-and-Feel series , Vol. 2

Four concepts in one busy board book imported from France.

Using a guessing-game format, Deneux introduces colors, shapes, numbers and opposites, following those introductions with increasingly complex iterations of each topic. Toddlers depicted throughout have varied skin tones but the same rosy cheeks. The “160 words” and “60 Touch-and-Feel Elements” announced on the front cover are scattered across sometimes-cluttered spreads. Many objects are not labeled. Most spreads have just one or two tactile features. What to do with this hodgepodge of information is not always clear, leaving it to caregivers to guide children through, for instance, the riot of colors at an amusement park or to puzzle out how a toy crane next to a numeral 9 may represent that number. After a single spread defines basic shapes, the next spread introduces a spiral, a diamond, a star, and an oval, along with objects that represent those shapes, followed by two pages cluttered with 50 objects (four with labels and just three with tactile elements) and the hint: “SO MANY COLORS AND SHAPES TO NAME.” The success of the reading experience depends on the skill of the adult sharing the book. Its touch-and-feel features demand one-on-one sharing, yet some of the tactile elements may not survive toddler fingers. Older toddlers may be confused; younger babies will be distracted.

Sometimes simpler is better. Pass on this hurried jumble. (Board book. 6 mos.-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-2-40801-968-6

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Depicting societally marginalized human bodies in all their joyful, normal glory, this book is cool.


A bustling celebration of body positivity that lovingly features bodies, skin, and hair of all kinds.

“Big bodies, small bodies / dancing, playing, happy bodies! / Look at all these different bodies! / Bodies are cool!” begins this engaging picture book, extolling the variety and splendor of human bodies in gentle, singsong text. With shared public spaces as the backdrop of her full-bleed spreads—and a refreshing lack of fanfare—author/illustrator Feder depicts people of many races, genders, disabilities, and physical attributes enjoying one another’s company, emphasizing connection rather than explanation. Whether riding a crowded bus, painting a community mural, or playing in a public park, no individual’s body is on particular display. Instead, young readers are able to people-watch through the pages, observing difference within the context of community. Most notably, Feder chooses clear and unapologetic language to describe body characteristics, challenging the negative connotations that are often attached to those bodies. Though the illustrations are a bit jam-packed, their richness and detail easily make up for the busy feel. Perfect for read-alouds, this offering shows young readers that vitiligo, assistive equipment, scars (including those denoting gender transition), fatness, dark skin, and textured hair (among many other features) all belong. Expanding visually beyond her celebration of the body, Feder also takes care to include queer families and characters wearing headscarves and turbans as well.

Depicting societally marginalized human bodies in all their joyful, normal glory, this book is cool. (Picture book. 3-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11262-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A substantive and affirming addition to any collection.


An impressive array of names, events, and concepts from Black history are introduced in this alphabet book for early-elementary readers.

From A for anthem (“a banner of song / that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong”) to Z for zenith (“the top of that mountain King said we would reach”), this picture book is a journey through episodes, ideas, and personalities that represent a wide range of Black experiences. Some spreads celebrate readers themselves, like B for beautiful (“I’m talking to you!”); others celebrate accomplishments, such as E for explore (Matthew Henson, Mae Jemison), or experiences, like G for the Great Migration. The rhyming verses are light on the tongue, making the reading smooth and soothing. The brightly colored, folk art–style illustrations offer vibrant scenes of historical and contemporary Black life, with common people and famous people represented in turn. Whether reading straight through and poring over each page or flipping about to look at the refreshing scenes full of brown and black faces, readers will feel pride and admiration for the resilience and achievements of Black people and a call to participate in the “unfinished…American tale.” Endnotes clarify terms and figures, and a resource list includes child-friendly books, websites, museums, and poems.

A substantive and affirming addition to any collection. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0749-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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