Like the art itself, this book leaves space to see and contemplate. Is this for you? Absolutely.

OPPOSITES ABSTRACT

An exploration of abstract art inspires readers to ask what exactly is an opposite, anyway?

First, the elephant in the room: There are no elephants here, nor pigs nor pigeons, for that matter. Instead, readers find enticing acrylic-and-ink abstracts that would feel equally at home on an art museum’s walls or a child’s bedroom floor. What sets it apart as a concept book is Willem’s insistence on questioning the criteria of opposites. Instead of declaring it so, he invites readers viewing a gently curved, colorfully blobby painting to ponder, “Is this soft?” Who made that decision anyway? Some compositions feel easy to interpret, such as a “calm” pale-blue, wavelike composition contrasting with an “excited” shape- and line-filled extravaganza. Bold additions of open-ended pairs, such as the circuit-filled “mechanical” and amoebalike “organic” pairing, seem purposefully designed to elicit rich conversation. None will accomplish that more than a poignant “inclusion” and “exclusion” set, with a grid of matte primary-colored rectangles juxtaposed with an empty white square with a singular, lonely black square in the corner. Only a barely painted teal square on the opening page which “is starting” and on a final page declared “finished” as a fully painted square are utterly definitive (both statements are the only ones that end with periods), reminding readers that everything else is up to them.

Like the art itself, this book leaves space to see and contemplate. Is this for you? Absolutely. (Concept book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-07097-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Number lovers will enjoy this comic celebration. Although doubters may not be convinced that math is fun or approachable,...

I'M TRYING TO LOVE MATH

Having tackled such hard-to-love topics as bees and spiders, Barton (Give Bees a Chance, 2017, etc.) here lobbies for the love of math.

An unnamed, unseen math-phobic narrator opens by announcing that they’re not alone, as “4 in 10 Americans hate math. That’s like 40%,” only to be hilariously interrupted by a three-eyed purple ET. “Did you just use math to explain how much you don’t like it?” The ET proceeds to explain how math is everywhere and in everything we already love, including cookies (demonstrating that a recipe is in effect a word problem), music (explaining the time signature and notes on a staff), and pizza (measuring the pie using pi). Loose and lively illustrations and big, bold lettering take readers on a colorful tour of cool math history and concepts. But the narrator’s critical questions go unanswered: How do you learn to love a problem like 785 x 5? And what to do with your frustration when you can’t arrive at the “one right answer?” The ET suggests shaking the numbers off the page when they get too overwhelming—an entertaining but ultimately evasive strategy.

Number lovers will enjoy this comic celebration. Although doubters may not be convinced that math is fun or approachable, they will be impressed with its ubiquity, and that’s a start. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-48090-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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