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Checkers and Dot at the Beach by J. Torres

Torres, J. Checkers and Dot at the Beach. Illus. J. Lum. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2013. Print.

The team of Ontario-based author and illustrator (and comics veterans) J. Torres and J. Lum brings young babies the duo of Checkers and Dot.  Torres is best known for his Alison Dare graphic novels and other comics while this is graphic designer Lum’s first opportunity at illustrating for a children’s audience.

Checkers, a young boy in a checkered shirt and his friend Dot, a little girl in a polka-dotted jumper are introduced as part of a larger series of Checkers and Dot titles, all with a high-contrasted and heavily-designed black and white motif. This high contrast design is said to appeal to young babies and toddlers as well as provide visual stimulation that may lead to increased brain development. The small size and sturdy binding is a plus.

In Checkers and Dot on the Farm, the youngest of children are introduced to animal sounds in rhyming prose that will be fun for any parent or caregiver to read aloud.  The images are highly stylized and will be mesmerizing to young children and the characters, a little reminiscent of anime, are quite cute.  In Checkers and Dot at the Beach the concept of basic counting to 5 is introduced via ocean animals. Both volumes have a slight plot which makes it more palatable to adults.

Though toddlers will enjoy re-reading these books to practice their farm animal sounds and basic counting, they may bore of the black and white in favour of more colourful & engaging board books aimed at preschoolers. The series is aimed at ages 0-4, however I feel it better suits the 0-2 age range. Suitable for public and home libraries.

Recommended: 3 stars out of 4
Reviewer: Debbie Feisst

Debbie is a Public Services Librarian at the H.T. Coutts Education Library at the University of Alberta.  When not renovating, she enjoys travel, fitness and young adult fiction.