Fun and instructive, this forest frolic will have kids eager to play along.

WHERE'S BABY?

In a hiding game led by Baby Fox, Papa Fox searches the forest for his little one but neglects to look in one obvious place.

Not finding his offspring indoors in their den, Papa Fox asks Mama where Baby might be, and she responds: “Why, Baby must be somewhere, Papa Fox.” Papa heads out to find Baby and looks in, over, under, down, up, and around, encountering owl, skunk, bear, mouse, toothy fish, and bull—but no Baby Fox. Disheartened, Papa says, “Mama Fox, I can’t find Baby anywhere.” She responds knowingly, “Have you looked behind you, Papa Fox?” Readers will have seen that Mama has been in on the joke all along if they noticed, early on, Mama waving goodbye to Baby, who is quietly following Papa as he sets off on his search. The text is entirely composed of dialogue in speech balloons. Graceful, finely sketched pen-and-pencil drawings, primarily in black and gray against a pale blue backdrop, complement this exercise in identifying prepositions. Kids will play along with Baby, easily spotting his pointy ears and rusty-orange body, which pops against the otherwise muted palette. Reunited with Papa, Baby Fox asks, “Can we do that again?”—encouraging multiple readings of this amusing story.

Fun and instructive, this forest frolic will have kids eager to play along. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6498-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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