This board book for small hands is an atypical abecedary, more focused on radical vocabulary than teaching the alphabet. It is unclear whether this title is a joke intended for adults like “Go the Fuck to Sleep” or if it is legitimately geared towards young children—hopefully the former, not the latter. As a litmus test, I showed it to some of my students from six to nine years old. They enjoyed looking for the cats included on each page but didn’t seem to understand many of the words.
There are some families that are deeply steeped in Leftist traditions, where young children would be exposed to words and concepts such as abolitionism, grassroots, and vox populi. Other families, even very progressive ones, may need to undergo hours of explanation and long, ongoing conversations about ideas raised on every single page. While this is not necessarily a bad thing because it’s never too early to start talking with children about the environment or social justice, I wonder if a clumsily-rhymed collection of chants is an effective way to accomplish this. There isn’t even a clear or unified format of the text.
A couple of the pages are simple ABAB rhymes which don’t even scan properly. Most others rhyme in a more disjointed way, and others don’t rhyme at all. The words on each page that begin with the assigned letter of the alphabet are capitalized, but even then it can be confusing which page stands for which letter: for example, the letter “U” where “W” words actually signify labor rights. Then we read, “Wait. That’s not U, that’s DOUBLE U. U is for Union. Union Yes!!”
Even those who love radicalizing children’s literature will see that this book is not the way to do it. This book is recommended for libraries serving children of progressive parents who may want to expose their children to these concepts, no matter how difficult to read.
Reviewer: Kyle Lukoff, Librarian
Corlears School, New York City