Novelty pull-tabs combined with fascinating animal-tongue facts.

Face it: Tongues are weirdly enthralling to toddlers and preschoolers, who are going to be even more intrigued after experiencing this lively board book. Inside, readers get up and close and personal with five different animal faces. Pull the tab from their mouths, and a tongue emerges, from an insect-covered anteater’s to an unexpectedly blue, leaf-coated giraffe tongue. Once the tongue’s out, let go—and snap!—it recedes with a satisfying noise, as though the animal is hungrily devouring its meal. Because the elastic that enables this special effect seems both well attached and robust, the snapping feature should attract and withstand plenty of action. The accompanying tongue facts are genuinely cool. Who knew that a blue whale’s tongue “weighs as much as an elephant” or that the chameleon’s “tongue is hollow”? Sitting against mostly white backgrounds, the page-dominating animal collages feel as energetic as their springing tongues. Brilliantly colored papers are cut, ripped, layered, and painted, making the critters feel three-dimensional. The few strategic background elements, such as a diminutive scuba diver alongside the blue whale or the paper wasp’s nest (incorrectly identified as a beehive) behind a sun bear present the animal’s scale. If the book has a downside, it’s that there’s not enough of it.

Snap this one up. (Novelty board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7941-4

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Youngsters will enjoy the playful art if they aren’t overwhelmed by the busy design.


From the Mrs. Peanuckle's Alphabet Library series , Vol. 4

From Ant to Zorapteran, each page presents a variety of insects, both commonplace and obscure.

Narrator Mrs. Peanuckle, who enjoys sharing her likes and dislikes and writing about herself in the third person, has penned one to two sentences of quirky description and interesting facts for each insect representing a different letter of the alphabet: “L is for Ladybug / The loveliest of insects. They help Mrs. Peanuckle by eating the bugs on her roses!” The text often takes up most of the page and employs a different typeface per word, thus making the pages difficult to scan—often the featured letter of the alphabet merges with the name of the insect (“Inchworm” looks as though it has two I’s, for example). Ford’s lively insects skitter around the words in luminescent color; as with any effective insect book, there’s just enough detail to provoke interest without an ick-response. The companion book, Mrs. Peanuckle’s Flower Alphabet, presents blooms from Aster to Zinnia, with the same formula but with a more winsome approach to the art; here many of the flowers sport smiling faces in the same bold color palette.

Youngsters will enjoy the playful art if they aren’t overwhelmed by the busy design. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62336-939-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A riff on the familiar lullaby depicts various animal parents, and then a human father, soothing their sleepy little ones.

An opening spread includes the traditional first verse of the titular lullaby, but instead of depicting a human baby in a treetop cradle, the accompanying illustration shows a large tree as habitat to the animals that are highlighted on subsequent pages. First the perspective zooms in on a painterly illustration rendered in acrylics of a mother squirrel cuddling her baby with text reading “Rock-a-bye Squirrel, / high in the tree, / in Mommy’s arms, / cozy as can be.” In this spread and others the cadence doesn’t quite fit with the familiar tune, and repeated verses featuring different animals—all opening with the “Rock-a-bye” line—don’t give way to the resolution. No winds blow, no boughs break, and the repetitive forced rhythm of the verse could cause stumbles when attempting a read-aloud. The final image of a human father and baby, whose skin tone and hair texture suggest that they are perhaps of South Asian descent, provides pleasing visual resolution in a book with art that outshines text.

Ho-hum. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3753-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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