Adult aficionados of art books are likely to appreciate this endeavor more than children will.

ALPHAMALS

A-Z

How far can an alphabet concept be stretched?

The artifice of the title is a clue. Elegant, sophisticated digital illustrations combine alphabet letters with animal shapes in an art deco style that creates posterlike images. Complementing the artwork is the color palette filled with fancy shades from the more exotic reaches of an extra-large box of crayons. Some of the animal colorations are atypical, such as the zebra’s, which is painted with dark- and light-blue stripes that make it pop against a crimson background. The soft, blue-hued manatee on the cover is attractive and will have readers wondering what it is. The recto of each double-page spread is a full-page representation of the creature, while the verso displays the blocky uppercase letter on a white background above the animal’s name printed in a delicate, stylized typeface (the “I” and “J” of which are almost identical), which is followed by a brief, poetic description. For example, “Crocodile / Lurking in the murky depths, / a crocodile basks in the midday sun. / Her long, strong body is as still as a log, / but she’s waiting, watching, set to strike / and snatch her prey in snapping jaws.” The animals vary in recognizability, with fox, giraffe, and penguin on the better-known end of the spectrum and quoll and urial on the other end.

Adult aficionados of art books are likely to appreciate this endeavor more than children will. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9557-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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