Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Blocks by Irene Dickson

It seems like, more and more, picture books are written for an older audience. Sophisticated art and humor, lengthy text, older protagonists, all point towards a grade school audience. And yet, at the same time, the actual audience for picture books, at least in my library, gets younger and younger.

I am therefore thrilled when I find a simple picture book, beautifully illustrated, that has enough depth to catch the eye and interest of older children but also is suitable for our large toddler audience.

A thick cover with square die cuts sets the stage for a story that is all about blocks. "Ruby has red blocks." Her bright red shirt and shoes repeat the cheerful red blocks that she builds with. Then along comes Benji in blue socks, blue hoodie, with a blue wagon of blue blocks. Anyone who has dealt with toddlers or preschoolers knows what comes next - "Mine!" and a grand tumble. A little problem-solving and they are ok to play with red AND blue blocks. But what happens when Guy shows up with green blocks....?

I loved the blocky illustrations that look like sponge painting or prints. The simple text with clever notes - the alliteration of names and colors, the organization of the blocks, the matching end papers. Most of all, I loved the diversity. Irene Dickson doesn't just include children of color, she puts them front and center, starting the story with Ruby and giving her equal time with Benji.

Verdict: Perfect for reading on school visits, to toddlers, to older children who will pick up the subtle clues in the art, and before block parties. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780763686567; Published May 2016 by Nosy Crow; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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