Ghigna and Smith’s First Times Represents Diversity and Early Years Success

A mirror and a window, a reflection and an aspiration

Childhood is filled with many happy firsts, from mastering a two-wheeler to finally being allowed to choose your own outfit. First Times is joyful book by well-known author Charles Ghigna that captures and celebrates both the mundane and the monumental moments in a child’s life.

The delightful, sherbet-hued illustrations by Lori Joy Smith feature three children ranging in age from infant to school-aged. They are quite obviously siblings, but part of a multiracial family—a fact that will provide a mirror for some children and a window for others.

Grownups are mostly absent from the pictures (but still referenced in the children’s lives), creating a lovely dynamic where the children are proud of themselves and each other rather than looking for adult approval.

The story is told in simple rhyme, with a key word colourfully bolded in each sentence. The page layouts are made visually interesting by alternating illustrations that stretch to the edge of the page with encircled highlights surrounded by white space.

Young children will see their own abilities in many of the fun activities such as catching a ball, swinging on the swingset and blowing bubbles. Other activities will be aspirational for the preschoolers who are the most likely audience for this book: Tying shoes, riding bikes, swimming and reading are firsts that are sure to be in their not-too-distant future.

The concepts in this book are very relatable for young children, and the illustrations are engaging. However, it is the simple, unheralded representation of diversity that elevates this book into a highly recommended choice for a toddler’s bookshelf.

First Times
Charles Ghigna and Lori Joy Smith
Orca Book Publishers

Written By

Kate Watson is the theatre reviewer for The Coast, a freelance writer, and coordinator of the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award. She has a keen interest in municipal politics, community-building and twitter. Follow her @DartmouthKate.

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