________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 2. . . .September 15, 2017


First Times.

Charles Ghigna. Illustrated by Lori Joy Smith.
Victoria, BC: Orca, October, 2017.
32 pp., hardcover, pdf & epub, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1198-0 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1199-7 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1200-0 (epub).

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Mę-Linh Lę.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



The first time I help my father make dinner.

The first race that I run and I am the winner”


First Times is a sweet book that celebrates the joy and wonder of everyday activities as experienced through the eyes of children. It follows three youngsters as they accomplish a series of ‘firsts’ in their lives - whether it is tying a shoe, making a wish, or walking with friends to school. The book charmingly demonstrates that what may be routine to adults can still be truly magical and quite exciting to a child.

     Its author, Charles Gingha is a prolific writer and poet with more than 100 titles to his name. The text is fun to read as each double page contains an end rhyme. Kids will easily be able to help read aloud after only a few rereads – particularly when aided by the appealing art. All the ‘firsts’ have broad appeal and are something most children can relate to - such as reading, swimming, playing catch, or having a bath.

     The text is perfectly matched with artwork (created using watercolour, gouache, and pencils) by Lori Joy Smith. The colours used are somewhat muted but do a lovely job depicting the ‘firsts’ accomplished by the children. While some pages contain full-page pictures, other use a circular, more spotlight-like effect to focus the eye of the reader.

     There were two small issues with the text formatting and the age range. First, the inconsistency in font and colour in which the ‘first’ is described is slightly off-putting. For example, in some cases, the verb of the sentence is in coloured text that is offset from the rest of the words in some ways (e.g., “My first slide down the slide” has the word ‘slide’ in a different colour and the word slide is sloped downwards from the S to the E like an actual slide). However, on the rest of the pages, there is no guarantee that a word will be highlighted; as the book progresses, fewer words are indicated in colour, and some firsts have nothing special at all about the way they are written. While a minor quibble, it does show a lack of attention to the way the text is designed and delivered on the page, and it is something that small readers may still notice.

     Second, the age range noted by the publisher of 4-8 years is much too old for the content of this book, with its sweet but simple storyline. It would be much more appropriate for 2-4 year olds. Those issues aside, First Times is still a pleasant book that will appeal to both parents and younger readers.


Mę-Linh Lę, a mother of three young children, is a librarian at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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