While the seed of a good idea is here, it withers and dies by the end (pun intended)

READ REVIEW

WHO CAN?

Little ones are encouraged to guess the identity of various animals through pun-filled riddles.

“Who can sing while sitting in a tree? Who can?” So reads the text on the left-side of the first double-page spread. Across the gutter, a telltale bright beak peeks out from a copse of trees, and the page-turn reveals the answer: “TOUCAN.” “Who can?” is asked again to introduce a pelican, and the pattern of riddle and reveal continues with question on recto and answer on the following verso. The next set of animals—pandas and barracudas—answers the question “Who does?” The puns get stretched a little too thin when the riddle reads “Who stirs the wheel in the playground? Who stirs?” and the answer is “HAMSTERS.” While van Kampen’s illustrations are lively enough against white backgrounds and employ warmly saturated colors, the tone of the art is an odd mix of the naturalistic (pandas eating bamboo) and the whimsical (centipedes reading this very book). The project ends with a query directed to readers, asking who can read this riddle book. On the following double-page spread a white toddler sits in an oversized chair reading as all the animals (including fish-out-of-water minnows and a barracuda) from subsequent pages gaze on with admiration.

While the seed of a good idea is here, it withers and dies by the end (pun intended) . (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1369-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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The sparkly cover and less-than-exciting interactive elements fail to fully convey the majesty of the watery deep.

DEEP SEA DIVE

LIFT-THE-FLAP ADVENTURES

A diver directly recruits his audience to explore the salty sea.

Closed, the shaped cover follows the curve of the diver’s helmet; open, it evokes goggles through which readers can explore the deep. A variety of underwater creatures are revealed through lifting flaps; brief rhyming text on the undersides of the flaps provides a little informational heft. These rhymes are not distinguished by their lyricism, alas. “Jellyfish are pretty— / some glow in the dark. / But don't swim too close— / their sting leaves a mark.” The simply drawn creatures are not depicted to scale. The seahorse dominates its page, while the toothy shark appears shorter than the sea turtle. Two-toned blue backgrounds evoke waves. Space Walk uses an identical format to survey the planets (all eight of them) and is equally superficial.

The sparkly cover and less-than-exciting interactive elements fail to fully convey the majesty of the watery deep. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4027-8525-2

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Pass on this weak offering.

WHERE IS FLUFFY?

From the My First Stories series

A predictable board-book mystery.

The mystery involves a common childhood crisis—a lost toy. Ho’s trademark round-headed animals stand in for humans with a range of emotions, from the persistently worried Little Bunny to grumpy Pig. Each barnyard animal offers the distraught bunny a comforting alternative to his blanket, “Fluffy.” Finally, when Mouse admits to borrowing Fluffy for a snuggle, Little Bunny forgives him surprisingly quickly because, “I love my Fluffy for snuggling too.” The rhyming text presents problems—either by not actually rhyming (lost/most; fur/near) or falling inconsistently, making end rhymes unpredictable and less than useful in a book for pre-readers. Instead of letting the pictures tell the story, superfluous speaker attributions make this a tedious read-aloud and impede the rhyme: “ ‘I'll search the pond for your Fluffy,’ says Duck. / ‘I've looked underwater already. No luck!’ Fish tells Little Bunny.” The various flaps, foil inserts, and very small tactile elements are not intriguing enough to rescue the story. The tiny patch of wolf fur peeking through the page with the lambs is easily missed (and is disconcertingly far away from the picture of the wolf). Perhaps out of concern for the safety of the lamb, the wolf does not appear on the next page. No similar caution is shown when the owl shares a page with its prey. Do owls not eat chicks wearing spectacles?

Pass on this weak offering. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-2-7338-3235-6

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Auzou Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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