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Reviewed by Lee Ashford for Readers' Favorite
"Ups and Downs at the Boardwalk" by Karl Beckstrand is a concept-teaching book for very young children, and is appropriate even for infants, from birth through to about age 3 or 4. It uses very vivid colors throughout, which is sure to gain and maintain the attention of the very young. The background images are original watercolor renditions of scenes typical of a beachfront boardwalk. For example, the first page has one word - UP - situated over the view from the front seat of the roller coaster, going up. The next page features the word DOWN, and shows the same roller coaster racing down after cresting the first peak.
This teaching aid uses a "compare and contrast" paradigm, coupled with some loose rhyming throughout. By pointing at the subject, while emphasizing the word, a parent or guardian can begin to expose the very young child to basic concepts which then become the building blocks upon which further education is built. A couple of the words compared or contrasted may represent concepts beyond the capabilities of even a 4 year old, but I think that helps to keep the book relevant throughout the many growth and learning stages through which a child must go. For example, one page shows two boys at a fruit stand; the words are "Kilo" and "Pound". There are full grown adults who do not comprehend the difference between these two concepts, but that's not really a reason to exclude them from this book. Such early exposure to those words may make comprehension of the underlying concepts that much easier for the child. I very definitely believe this is an appropriate, and even desirable, book to provide new parents at the birth of their child.