RIDDLE DIDDLE FARM

Rhymed riddles with lift-the-flap answers offer guessing-game giggles for toddlers.

Readers can guess at and reveal the identities of five barnyard friends in its two-page set pieces: a rhymed riddle, sans solution, on the verso and a relatively easy-to-open flap on the facing page that conceals the answer, presented in both picture and word form. The rhyme scheme and meter vary a bit; caregivers would do well to practice before sharing to avoid tripping over the occasional bit of overcomplicated phrasing: “I’m the morning ALARM / heard out on the FARM. / Wake up! I cock-a-doodle-dooed, SIR. / Keep the gate SHUT / or out I will STRUT / I’m proud to be such a fine….” A peek behind the flap on the next page reveals the answer: a brightly colored, crowing rooster. On a practical level, by the time a child has managed to locate and lift the flap, the rhythm of the line is disrupted, losing some of the momentum of the rhyme. Other rhymes are simpler and more straightforward, though, and funnier, too: “I wallow in MUD / and eat lots of CRUD / For slop, my appetite’s BIG. / You think I STINK? / I’m tickled PINK! Oinkity-oink! I’m a….” The wallowing pig and other farm animals are stylized but recognizable; the colors are bright and earthy. Companion title Riddle Diddle Safari shares both this volume’s strengths and its weaknesses.

Uneven but fun. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68152-406-1

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Amicus Ink

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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

MRS. PEANUCKLE'S BUG ALPHABET

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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ROCK-A-BYE BABY

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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