While it’s a less-than-perfect offering, preschoolers who crave gimmicks to manipulate will enjoy giving this one a whirl,...

PRESTO CHANGE-O

A BOOK OF ANIMAL MAGIC

Through the twist of paperboard flaps, objects are transformed.

The action is on the right-hand pages. A man’s top hat reveals a bird hiding underneath; a salad bowl flips upside down to become a turtle. Across the spread, rhyming couplets describe the transformation. The majority of these paper-engineering magic tricks will enchant children, but some of these metamorphoses feel a bit forced; the clock that morphs into an owl requires the twisting of seven separate flaps and does not end up looking much like the nocturnal bird. Manceau’s flat, Lois Ehlert–like graphics in a dark and highly saturated palette are eye-catching, although the almost entirely black rocket/penguin is too dark against a navy blue background. The poetry is also uneven, including some delightful lines mixed in with forced analogies and lines that don’t scan. The final two pages provide before-and-after pictures of each switch as a helpful guide. The back of this board book bears a large choking-hazard warning for children under 3, but since the verse is sophisticated and the manipulations require more dexterity than the average toddler possesses, the package is more appropriate for older kiddos anyway.

While it’s a less-than-perfect offering, preschoolers who crave gimmicks to manipulate will enjoy giving this one a whirl, literally. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-2-8480-1944-4

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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MOTHER GOOSE PICTURE PUZZLES

Hillenbrand introduces the idea of rebuses to newly emergent readers with a gathering of likely-to-be-familiar Mother Goose rhymes—from “Hey diddle, diddle, / the [cat] and the [fiddle]” to “Twinkle, twinkle, little [star].” To make the translations ultra-easy, he provides literal visual interpretations for each rhyme in good-humored cartoon scenes featuring smiling people or animals, generally in country dress and settings. (He moderates verisimilitude for the audience appropriately: Jill’s fallen male companion and Humpty Dumpty are unhappy after their accidents but plainly not grievously injured.) He even labels the relevant figures, all of whom or which are larger versions of the rebuses: “cake,” “baker’s man” and “baby,” for instance, or “hill,” “pail,” “water” and “crown (another word for top of head).” As a technique for promoting visual and verbal literacy at once this game has a good track record, and young audiences put off by the crudely illustrated likes of Blanche Fisher Wright’s Real Mother Goose Picture Word Rhymes (1916, 1987) or the much older Mother Goose in Hieroglyphics (1849, 1973) will both enjoy and benefit from this shorter but more child-friendly outing. (Nursery rhymes. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5808-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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A decidedly mixed bag of ideas that does not quite come together.

THIS IS NOT A BOOK

This unusual board book is a visual ode to both the rectangular and things that open and close.

In these nearly wordless pages, Jullien presents the gaping mouth of a monster, an aerial view of a tennis court, and the keyboard of a piano, to name a few, in droll cartoons employing thick, black lines. The ideas here range from the clever (the image of a youngster reading inside a tent encourages readers to stand up the book as if it were a tent) to the everyday and banal (the inside of a toolbox), often encouraging youngsters to change the orientation of the book. Very young children, who are the core board-book readers, may appreciate the items that are the most identifiable, particularly the open refrigerator and butterfly. The open laptop, complete with keyboard, may prove a dated reference to tablet-wielding toddlers. A double gatefold (the only one) opens up to a kid reading a book titled This Is a Book, but there is no setup for this revelation. The page turn that reveals white buttocks (with the crack running down the gutter) will prompt a few giggles once it’s parsed. While Jullien’s art is delightful, it is a shame he couldn’t diversify the subjects in these scenes; few, if any, of the people depicted are people of color.

A decidedly mixed bag of ideas that does not quite come together. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7112-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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