High educational value offsets limited literary merit.

ONE MORE TIME

A STORY ABOUT PERSEVERANCE

From the Bright Start Right Start series

Child-friendly examples teach toddlers socio-emotional skills.

In this Bright Start series entry, a grandfather teaches the narrator, a gender-ambiguous child, to ride the blue scooter they got for their birthday. In the process of trying, falling, and trying again, the child learns a lesson in perseverance. In companion title My Turn, Your Turn, Ms. Wright, who is presumably a teacher, helps Malik and Cora share a toy airplane that they were fighting over. Both books feature duotone cartoon illustrations that include characters of color: Grandpa and the narrator in One More Time are black while in My Turn, Your Turn, Malik is dark skinned, and light-skinned Cora is ethnically ambiguous. Textured, chunky pages will appeal to small, curious hands. Laudably, the narratives use examples that children will find both familiar and relevant. While the predictability of the storylines will appeal to young readers, the stories verge on the monotonous. In One More Time, for example, the author spends seven pages detailing how the protagonist learns to balance, then push, then balance and push, a description that feels tedious and does not contribute to the narrative. That said, the limited page length and simple language make these books ideal for teachers or parents looking for quick and easy tools to use to foster socio-emotional development.

High educational value offsets limited literary merit. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4441-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Words & Pictures

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Purchase for some temporary interactive Halloween fun.

MY MAGICAL WITCH

From the My Magical Friends series

Four green-faced witches fly through this durable board book looking for Halloween fun.

A turn of the notched wheel embedded in the cover page changes the sparkly stripes on a witch’s hat, cape, and broom. Three more witches join the fun inside. Though not identified by gender, all wear dresses. All the interactive elements are focused on the first witch, who wears fluffy orange hair in two pigtails. One slider simultaneously lifts a broom and plops a straight hat on top of that hair. Another slides the witch across the night sky. A second wheel shows the ingredients being added to a cauldron. A final slider magically produces three black cats. Two lines of (uncredited) rhyming text on each of the four double-page spreads hint at what the interactive element will reveal. While the text is conveniently placed in the same spot on each spread, the vocabulary is peppered with reach words for the toddler audience: “Off they swooped on whizzing brooms, / heading for the potions room.” Mice, pumpkins, spiderwebs, owls, brooms, bats, and other thematically appropriate objects and creatures scattered across the busy pages place the book firmly in the Halloween genre. Unnamed and primarily decorative, these seemingly arbitrary additions distract from the slight story thread. Toddlers will readily manipulate the five smoothly performing interactive elements; unfortunately, the text and pictures are not equally enticing.

Purchase for some temporary interactive Halloween fun. (Novelty board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4463-1

Page Count: 8

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Vibrant photographs—especially action shots—will capture children’s attention, build language skills and, one hopes, start...

FAMILIES

“We hope this book…will lead children and their parents to engage in conversation about their families.”

So begins this good-sized book, which is packed with photographs of families of many different sizes, shapes, ages and colors (although most wear casual clothing familiar to most American children). Bold, colorful type announces: “There are all kinds of families.” Engaging photographs throughout complement a simple text that informs readers about differences—such as big vs. small; genders and generations of parents; adoption vs. birth children. Positive similarities follow, as families get together for celebrations and family members help one another out and enjoy activities together. Only childless families are excluded, but that can be forgiven by the book’s noble, stated goal. Kelly adds an endnote to further encourage parents: “Recently, research psychologists have found that children who developed a strong family narrative from speaking with their parents about family history and hearing family stories, both good and bad, exhibited greater self-esteem….” As the photographs’ emotional spectrum covers the tiny range from cheerful to exuberant, it’s an open question whether this will encourage or inhibit truthful family-history revelations. However, the emphatic ending will certainly start a dialogue: “There are many different kinds of families. What about yours?”

Vibrant photographs—especially action shots—will capture children’s attention, build language skills and, one hopes, start conversations. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3053-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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