CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 11 . . . . January 25, 2008
Despite the bilingual titles on the covers, these four board books are entirely wordless. However, information found on the back cover indicates that the books were first published in Mexico, thereby explaining why the full-colour photographs contain many items that will likely be unfamiliar to Canadian toddlers (though adult wrestling fans might recognize the lucha libre mask being worn by one of the children on the cover of Red + Green / Royo + Verde. Hopefully, parents and other adults who are using these board books with children will also see the back cover note that says, “For more information about these pictures go to A note in the publisher’s catalog explains that the website will contain “a glossary of the objects in English and Spanish.”
The contents of each book are found on 22 pages of colour photos. Of the quartet, Red + Green / Royo + Verde is the “easiest” in that its focus is simply on things that are red or green, with every photo containing something of each colour. Youngsters (and adults) will find both the familiar (watermelons, tomatoes, radishes, rope and wheelbarrows) and the somewhat familiar (a red flower, but which one? Bowls of red and green sauces, but of what kind?) And the onions and bean-like vegetables look more purple than red.
The title Stripes + Arrows / Rayas + Flechas indicates what youngsters are to find in this book’s photos. In some instances, the photos contain just one of the two “symbols” while others contain both. Particularly with the stripes pictures, some of the photos contain a primary stripe as well as a secondary one. In one photograph, a painted pointing finger on a outlined hand replaces the arrow. To extend the photos’s contents beyond the two symbols, after children have located the stripes and arrows, they could be asked to identify the objects on which they were found.
The contents of Circle + Square / Circulo + Cuadro and Colors + Flavors / Colores + Sabores would be more appropriate for the older end of the suggested audience range as these two board books demand more from their viewers. Circles and squares are two dimensional shapes, and frequently the photographs in Circle + Square / Circulo + Cuadro utilize three dimensional objects such as gumballs in a vending machine or dice. Children who have previously looked at Stripes + Arrows / Rayas + Flechas will likely see the stripes on the toy tops well before they find the circle. The row of dominoes forms a visual rectangle, not a square. Although some of photos contain only one shape, others incorporate both shapes, so metimes subtly, and child viewers may need to be encouraged to find the second shape.
Colors + Flavors / Colores + Sabores is both simple and complex. The photos in this book are the least complex or busy of the four books. Each photo contains but a single fruit, usually shown both whole and sliced open. In addition to the colour(s) of each fruit, the photos also contain one or two background colours. The book’s complexity is two-fold, with the first being the fruits which will be unfamiliar to most Canadian children. The second, of course, relates to the second part of the book’s title - “flavors.” At best, the book can only evoke memories of those fruits already tasted (although the photographs of the unrecognized fruits might lead child/adult to the fresh fruit department of the local supermarket in search of a new flavor test).
A worthy addition to home libraries as well as public libraries serving a preschool audience.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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