Babies, it seems, like to do a lot of the same things…even when one is a baby gorilla.
This winning board book capitalizes on children’s natural fascination with the animal kingdom to teach kids the names of 18 of their favorite activities. Beautifully photographed infant gorillas play, look, lift, sit, taste, clap, eat, and sleep, among other actions, all set against changing monochromatic backgrounds. A single gerund describes the action in each photograph. The layout has a clean, simple elegance. Regardless of one’s feelings about the origin of our species, it’s hard not to anthropomorphize these expressive little apes as they explore movement and sensory input. Children should have, for the most part, no difficulty relating the actions on each page to things they do in their own lives. Most deeds depicted are unambiguous, although, in the case of “looking,” it’s difficult to know if the ape is engaged by sight or by touch with the bowl in the photo. Similarly, in the photo illustrating “eating,” the gorilla is selecting a morsel of popcorn from a few scattered on the floor, not near the ape’s mouth. Kids may take the picture’s proffered explanation on faith, but it would have been simpler, perhaps, to show a young gorilla biting into a banana.
Quibbles aside, photos of cute animals doing cute things are an obvious slam-dunk. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)