CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 14 . . . . December 2, 2011
All three of these books originally appeared as picturebooks, and all have recently been reissued as board books. The trio of books were generally positively reviewed in their original form, but do they successfully make the transition to this new physical format? And the answer is a "Yes" for two of them and a "Qualified Yes" for the third. Unlike some other picturebook to board book transformations that I recently reviewed in CM, each of the titles in this present book threesome was originally written to appeal to a relatively young audience, and consequently their texts did need not to modified or truncated in any way in order to make them "fit" the board book format.
Since its original publication in 1982, Stinson's Red is Best has become a Canadian classic and has been published in numerous languages around the world. Almost four decades latter, today's toddlers will still relate to Kelly and to her desire to wear and use things that feature her favourite colour.
Gürth's Canada in Colours is my qualified yes. The only change to this book is that the endpaper maps which were in the 2008 book have been eliminated. For a board book's younger audience, this omission is really not a problem, given toddlers' yet to be developed ability to understand maps. While most of Canada's population is concentrated in urban areas, the Canada that Gürth largely presents is that of a nation made up of wide open spaces. The book has two purposes, with one being to introduce children to the varied landscapes found in Canada. The other purpose is to reinforce children's knowledge of colours. I deliberately used the word reinforce as Canada in Colours is not a book to be used in introducing young children to colours as each double page spread features a scene that contains many colours beyond the pages' focal colour. For example, shades of green and blue predominate on the forest scene pages where the text reads "Purple blackberries ripen for the picking. Mmmm!"
The Very Cranky Bear also remains essentially unchanged in terms of its text and illustrations, with only slight modifications occasionally being made to where line breaks occur. Of the three books, The Very Cranky Bear is the most sophisticated in terms of its plot, and, therefore, it would not be a "first" board book to be shared with toddlers.
Red is Best - Highly Recommended.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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