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Children's Books

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ABC, A Chunky Shape Book by Jean Hirashima. It was a neat idea to make a baby’s ABC book in the shape of an alphabet block, and Hirashima’s pastel pictures (A for apple) have plenty of nostalgic charm. Toddlers, however, may get confused: The stand-alone letters are rendered in capitals, but the corresponding words are lowercase. B

AGES 2 to 4

Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy; illustrations by Simms Taback. For kids who love the roar and romance of really big machines, this book depicts a slew of trucks, cranes, and backhoes as they’re put to work by a multiracial road crew to build a highway. The full-page color pictures are vivid and energetic. B+

AGES 4 to 8

From Head to Toe: How a Doll Is Made by Susan Kuklin. The care and craftsmanship lavished on a finely made doll are skillfully revealed through a behind-the-scenes photographic look at Harlem’s famed Alexander Doll Co.’s operation. A-

The Creation by James Weldon Johnson; illustrated by James E. Ransome. Johnson, the pioneering African-American poet, educator, and diplomat who died in 1938, wrote this vibrant rendition of the creation story as an homage to the electrifying country preachers of his youth. ”I’m lonely,” declares Johnson’s down-to-earth God. ”I’ll make me a world.” A classic, rousing read-aloud. A-

PAGES 8 to 12

War Game by Michael Foreman. In touching watercolors and powerful prose, the author follows four English lads’ tumultuous journey from soccer field to battlefield during World War I. The thought-provoking tale shows that whatever else war may be, it’s not a game. A

Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon by Paula Danziger; illustrated by Tony Ross. The sad saga of a best friend who moves away has been covered and re-covered by kids’ authors of every stripe. But by marshaling her trademark sauciness and compassion, Danziger manages to serve up a fresh and fast-paced tale of two third graders who have to say goodbye. B+