This or That: A Busy Morning
by Wendy Kronick and Susan Beauchene
Authors Press

"Good Morning, it’s time to start the day. You’ve had a good sleep, and soon we will play."

This is a richly illustrated chronicle of a toddler’s morning: from waking up, to an excursion, and then back to bed for a nap after lunch. It is told in rhyming couplets, one or two per episode. What makes the story unique is the respect given to the child. From the illustrations, this toddler appears to be a boy, though this would not necessarily be the case. Nor is there anything gender-exclusive in the pictures or narrative. It is evident, though, that this youngster is regarded by the parent as fully able to make important decisions.

At every stage of the morning’s varied activities, there is a choice to be made. First, after waking, there is the selection of a diaper. Will it be the one with the ducks or the one with bows? The child is allowed, encouraged, to decide. Then there is a decision about bib color—red or green—followed by a choice of toys (blocks or a truck) to play with while Mommy and Daddy are dressing. Should the family walk or ride to the park? Then the child can choose a song to sing as they stroll along. At the park come more decisions: where to play and with whom; whether to join the other kids or cavort with the family’s eager puppy. After a while, the tired toddler sits in the stroller on the way home but still has a choice: to hold “this book or that cup.” Back home, the child can choose between a high chair or a low, child-sized table. Finally, the toddler will choose a “lovey”—a fuzzy animal to hold onto while napping.

Child development expert Kronick and her writing partner Beauchene have created this debut collaborative with the help of illustrator Emilia Manrique Medrano, whose vibrant, ever-changing scenes contribute immediate attraction for the reader. Kronick is a teacher of parent-infant guidance and a practitioner of RIE—Resources for Infant Educarers. A central principle of that methodology is respect for infants that is based around observation and communication fitted to the individual’s needs. This respect is obvious on every page of the book.

The book is effective and enjoyable at every level, from the pop of colors, the emotive face and typical postures of the central character, the love shown in the interactions between the toddler and the parents (both of whom accompany their child to the park), and even in the enthusiastic participation of the family’s pup. The rhymes teach without overwhelming, and the narrative is designed to evince questions from a bright child and thoughtful consideration from the reader, whether parent, grandparent, or childcare worker. Adult readers can encourage their young listeners to participate actively in the choices offered in Kronick and Beauchene’s carefully structured and simple story, a tale which adds teachable moments on every page. Many parents not yet familiar with the authors’ strategies or the principles of RIE will be surprised at the notion that such a young child as depicted can make reasonable choices when called upon. But once the idea gains hold, promulgated in simple formats such as this engaging read-to, it can affect changes in the way adults view their babies and the way babies and toddlers can interact with grown-ups when given the chance . . . and the choice.

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