________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 6 . . . . October 12, 2012
Say “hello” to Checkers. (From Checkers and Dot.)
There go the penguins, marching one, two... (From Checkers and Dot at the Zoo.)
Checkers and Dot and Checkers and Dot at the Zoo are the first two books in a new board book series aimed at babies and tots. The illustrations in the series use only two colours, black and white. Checkers and Dot, the first book, simply introduces the series’ continuing characters who are illustrated in a cartoon-like fashion. Checkers, a boy, wears a checkered shirt while Dot, a girl and presumably Checker’s sister, wears a black dress with white polka dots. Their cat, Stripsey, is a white cat with black stripes, and their white dog, Spot, has, of course, black spots of various sizes on his body. When first introduced, the characters are presented against a background that matches their names, eg. Dot is on a black background that has white dots. Checkers and Dot, an essentially plot-free story, ends with a double page spread that has the four characters facing the reader and waving while the text reading:
Checkers! Bye-bye, Spot!
Checkers and Dot at the Zoo find the siblings, sans pets, on their first adventure as they go to the zoo There, the pair see, in turn, a panda, a zebra, a polar bear, a gorilla and her baby, and an adult penguin with five baby penguins, all animals whose natural colourings lend themselves to Lum’s two colour palette. Each animal is presented on a pair of facing pages, and Torres’ text for this book is slightly more sophisticated than that found in Checkers and Dot. Again, Lum uses a patterned background. For instance, the panda is presented against a stand of bamboo while the polar bear stands amongst falling snowflakes; however, with the exception of the text accompanying the zebra pages (“See the zebra covered with stripes.”), no direct text reference is made to these patterns.
Both of these board books serve as acceptable introductions to the world of books, and they will be appreciated by their very young audience who will then move on to more sophisticated board books.
to promotional materials included with the books, two new titles,
and Dot at the Beach
and Dot on the Farm
will be published Spring 2013.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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