Sunday, April 28, 2024

Yellow, Red, Green—GO! by Ellen Mayer

 It's been a little bit since I've presented a board book, and I don't want to forget the youngest readers out there! This one is part of a series, which introduces the very first foundations of math...which aren't as scary as some people might think. The positive cover has me believing this won't be a boring read, but we'll see.

by Ellen Mayer
Illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu
Star Bright Books
Board Book
20 pages
ages 1 to 4


Helmet on, buckle up, and off they go! As mother and young child bike together through their neighborhood to visit grandma, they see many things. They slow down as the traffic light turns yellow, then stop when it turns red, and then pedal forward when it switches to green, not only talking about what the color of each light means, but also about the pattern the lights make as they repeat. What other patterns will they discover along the way?

Yellow, Red, Green—GO! is a delightful addition to the Small Talk Books® math stories. This story explores patterns, an important early math concept.


Discovering patterns in the world around us meets familiar scenes with happy moments and fun.

A child and its mother are off to Grandma's house, riding a bike to get there. On their way, they pass traffic lights, which turn yellow, red and green. The mother points this out to her child, and when they make a stop at a store, the child notices the pattern in something else. Soon, they discover other patterns together.

The good vibes and positive emotions start this book out on a wonderful note and will have young listeners wanting to head out, too. The first example of a pattern, a traffic light, isn't only familiar, but listeners will have plenty of opportunity to spot this example when they are out-and-about themselves. It's a clever start. By tying this pattern to the next...and that in a store with toys...a nice flow is created, which hits the point in a way kids can connect to. This doesn't overload with patterns, either, but sticks to just a few.

The text is a little heavier than in many board books for this age group but stays at a level young listeners can understand. There are extra, repetitive phrases to add fun and invite listeners to join in. This goes beyond just the tale and includes things such as the patterned sound of the bicycle...a gentle way to illustrate the theme.

The illustrations are very detailed and hold familiar scenes. These allow for a little exploration and will have listeners discovery small things they didn't notice before when revisiting the read. 

This is part of a series, which introduces first building blocks to math logic. There's also a Spanish edition (I believe) available. So, this book has a lot to offer. 

And here they are...

Ellen Mayer is an award-winning children’s author who has worked as an education researcher and early literacy home visitor. Her Small Talk Books® series with Star Bright Books focuses on two aspects of early childhood education with engaging stories: early language development and early math development. Her most recent publication, Yellow, Red, Green—GO! is her tenth book with Star Bright Books. She lives with her husband and very large cat in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Visit Ellen's website here.

Ying-Hwa Hu is an award-winning illustrator. Her work has been exhibited at the Bologna Book Fair and The Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. Ying-Hwa has illustrated over 30 books, many of which she collaborated with her husband Cornelius Van Wright, also an illustrator and author. She lives in New York City with her husband. Visit

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