The late author and her collaborators create, combine, and reimagine a batch of spirited new animals from A to Z.
Packed full of invented punny and portmanteau animalgamations such as the “kangarude,” a golden marsupial with tongue out and eyes narrowed, cavalierly kicking over the letter K, the book presents a bevy of oddball beasts to accompany each letter. Every critter has its own unorthodox name, look, or point of emphasis in the word, such as the blushing, naked “polar bare” or a “lobster” that lobs an L. Readers will smirk at many of the funny combinations, but the humor is hard-won, as deciphering the clever names and underlying meanings, while supremely satisfying, is also labor-intensive. Those with more sophisticated vocabularies may fully parse the names, but obscure references, such as the “macawbre,” a macaw dressed in a Poe-inspired coat, will likely fly right over many readers’ heads. Using the letters as props for their antics, wildly peculiar, primitively drawn animals dash across the page, setting a zany tone. The potent primary colors, scribbly, smudgy textures, and lack of outlines constraining the creatures all contribute to the free-wheeling feel. Boldt’s images, such as a “hippotomess” surrounded by melted ice-cream and fast food wrappers, give useful clues about how to interpret the animal’s name.
At points, this book is hilariously funny, but for those who aren’t fans of wordplay, this might be a pun-ishing read. (Picture book. 5-8)