Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Read, Read, Read said the Baby: Clive by Jessica Spanyol

This series struck me as slightly too British for my audience, but I'll let you decide.

In Clive and his bags, Clive lists all his bags and the activities and attributes that go with them; a stethoscope from his nurse's bag, matching party bags with his friends, a special pocket in his art bag, and finally his very own sleeping bag. His clothing and behavior is gender-neutral and his friends are diverse.

Clive and his art explores a variety of simple artistic techniques. Clive uses glitter and stars to make a card for a friend, dons his yellow smock to do sponge painting, makes collages from paper and natural materials, and participates in art with friends.

Gender stereotypes are challenged in Clive and his hats as Clive cheerfully dons a hat for every occasion, from "buckaroo" hats with his friend Mina to matching woolly hats with his dolls. This one is probably the most British and small children may be confused by the unfamiliar language.

The final title in this set is Clive and his babies and celebrates playing with dolls. Clive bathes, walks, and plays with his dolls, alone and with friends. Sometimes the play is rough (as when he sends them down a slide) and other times is more quiet (dressing them with a friend).

The art in each book is simple but I felt it was a little too unformed. The hands and arms especially seem oddly shaped and out of perspective. Clive's scribbly hair looks weirdly like a wig as well.

The books are typical Child's Play format - 7x7 squares with slightly thinner cardboard than the average board book. I've found they hold up as well any other board book though.

As clearly stated on the back covers, these books are meant to challenge gender stereotypes and celebrate diversity. They certainly do both of these things; Clive's main two friends are Mina (Asian) and Asif (dark skin and glasses). Clive himself happily plays with a variety of toys including dress-up, dolls, bags, and different kinds of art. However, there was just too much text for me to fully get into the stories and see them as working well with toddlers.

Verdict: These are fine choices if you're working on diversifying your board book collection, but the longer text and art just didn't click with me and the British vocabulary will confuse most of my babies and toddlers. Basically, Child's Play has a lot of other diverse board books that I loved more.

Published 2016 by Child's Play; Review copies provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Clive and his babies
ISBN: 9781846438820

Clive and his hats
ISBN: 9781846438851

Clive and his art
ISBN: 9781846438837

Clive and his bags
ISBN: 9781846438844

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