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Monday, October 24, 2016

Blocks, written and illustrated by Irene Dickson. Nosy Crow, Candlewick. Random House, 2016. $20.00 ages 2 and up

"Ruby has red blocks.

Ruby builds with her red

Benji has blue blocks.

Benji builds with his blue

All is well until Benji reaches across the book's gutter to take one of Ruby's red blocks. Ruby cannot hide her concern and amazement at his audacity. What is he thinking?

Toddlers know exactly what Benji is thinking, while also understanding just exactly how Ruby is feeling about it. You have heard the word "Mine" often if you are living with, or have lived with, a toddler who has not quite learned the concept of sharing and its value to play. Both children are bent on keeping hold of the red block in question ... that is, until there is a catastrophic CRASH!

What to do? As so often happens, without adult intervention, the problem is quickly solved when the two use blocks of both colors to build a collaborative project together.

An opportune turn to the final page adds a new dimension. Here comes Guy, his wagon filled with green blocks. Now, what? It is left to young listeners to decide for themselves what happens next.

Oh, my! The illustrations are beautifully designed to give context to this wonderful evolving story. The front endpapers feature red and blue blocks of all shapes. The children are center of attention as they are introduced, one working on one side of the book (verso), the other working on the facing page (recto). Both are happy and engaged until ...

Check out the back endpapers. They may give a clue that will add to any follow-up discussion.

Simple, yet stunning!

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