This illustrated nonfiction board book introduces pairs of opposites found in the natural setting of a forest, helping toddlers and preschoolers gain skill in making comparisons.
In this concept board book, a little boy encounters opposites in nature, though not the common comparisons like a big elephant and a small mouse. Instead, Riggs shows readers elements in nature that may have opposite characteristics depending on the season or age of the object. For example, thin branches become thick in time, unripe fruits change from light to dark as they ripen, and leaves change from smooth to rough in the fall. Riggs emphasizes nature through the placement of the little boy: sometimes there’s just a part of him showing, like a hand reaching for a berry, or an eye watching a bird carrying juicy bugs to its nest of hungry babies; other times, he’s not visible at all. The opening and closing pages show the boy in the same corner of a forest, once in the verdant green of an early spring morning, with sunlight filtering through the leaves, and again on a stark winter day, where snow blankets the bare tree limbs, and the yellow sunlight has more space to penetrate—creating bookends emphasize the cycle of change in nature. The soft, muted palette may not be best suited for infants needing sharp contrasts, but the almost impressionistic illustrations give a quiet tone that would work well as a pre-nap or bedtime story, or as a simple reflective appreciation of nature.
–Children's Literature, 10/16/2023
Imagine you’re a frazzled parent of a very young child (it’s easy if you try). You are, today, at your wit’s end. Things have just been one disaster after another. Now it’s time to read to your little one and you want, no NEED, a book that’s going to soothe every jangled nerve in your cerebellum. By all appearances, this book by Riggs and Pritelli is simply an opposites book, but open that first cover and you are awash in this soothing, green, two-page spread of a spring forest suffused in an early morning mist. Even the words are calming, “In a quiet forest, young trees grow old.” Can’t you just feel yourself start to unclench? Each page is like that. A warm bath of opposites that also, somehow, seem to be saying something much bigger than what’s on the page. “Thin branches thicken.” “Bright fruits darken.” By the time you’re done your heartbeat has slowed a little and maybe some of that calm has even, impossibly, been passed on to your little one. A meditative, in the best sense of the term, book.
–Betsy Bird, Fuse #8 (31 Days, 31 Lists: 2023 Great Board Books), 12/01/2023