WOLF CRUNCH!

Big on gimmick, slight on story. (Board book. 2-4)

Youngsters pull a tab to manipulate a wolf cub’s mandible.

Said tab is located on the top of each alternating page, and little fingers can easily use it to raise a sturdy panel with a jagged lower edge that resembles teeth. Wolf cub Harry, it turns out, has playful rather than carnivorous tendencies, and he wants only to scare and tease the sheep and bunnies he meets in the forest. The companion book, Crocodile Snap, uses the same interactive feature but features a croc named Brock. Brock doesn’t want to scare anyone and is a little frustrated that all his fellow water creatures run away when he flashes his teeth. In the end, a boatload of tourists finally appreciates and takes pictures of his smile. While little ones will have fun chomping and enjoy Costamagna’s friendly cartoons in flat, highly saturated colors, these titles are scant on story despite the dense-for-the-format text. Harry comes across as a bit of a bully, and Brock registers as clueless. Also, in a serious design flaw, critters on adjacent pages are often visible through Harry’s and Brock’s open mouths, which makes them look as though they’re being eaten.

Big on gimmick, slight on story. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0200-9

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

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

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 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

ANIMAL SHAPES

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

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 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

Close Quickview