Babies are merciless product testers, particularly when it comes to books, which they chew, read upside down, throw, stomp, then offer to the dog. Most likely to survive this affectionate abuse are board books, those sturdy little things with round corners and spongeable pages that are readable even through tooth marks.
Now for the child who has outgrown baby themes but still acts like a Sherman tank on maneuvers, is a series of large format (8X10) board books. Instead of the one-image-one-word concept, these have a story line that appeals to kids with a longer attention span. In "Jack Goes to the Beach," we watch a day in the life of what looks like a 4-year-old on the Eastern seacoast. After his parents rub sunscreen on him, they help him build a sand castle. Next, he throws a ball into the waves, flies a kite and makes friends with a muddy Irish Setter. Lily's "Playground" is at the Carl Schurz Park in New York. She, too, is about 4 years old and perfectly behaved as she swings, slides and chases her shadow.
"Jack" and "Lily" are photographed in full color by Krementz. With artistic balance, she staggers different-size photos through the pages, accompanied by a simple first-person story in large type. Perhaps this is unintentional on the part of Krementz, but both children are seen in elite environments: Everything is tidy, and there's not a minority face to be seen. Neither child throws sand or kicks playmates; unrealistic maybe, but at least they're setting good examples. (It's a relief then to see Lily's darling overalls smudged at one knee with a hint of dirt on her white sneakers.)