Delightful art adds panache to this simple ode to a familiar body part.

THE BELLY BOOK

A meditation on the middle for beginning readers and younger listeners supports some appealingly merry illustrations.

Manushkin’s rhyming text is an invitation to a general celebration of abdomens—readers' own or other peoples', and occasionally those of beasts and birds—in all their rounded but not-very-unusual variety. The verse serves as an adequate vehicle for the art, which is the real treat here, with Yaccarino’s clever, energetic, lighthearted illustration: His round-headed, round-bodied people are set against brightly colored blocks and patterns with symmetry and syncopation. Throughout, Manushkin uses only the word belly for the front of the torso, with one exception: “Once upon a time your mummy / grew you—right inside her tummy.” She humorously points out that belly-button lint is kind of mysterious (“Where it comes from, no one knows!”). When the easy-to-read rhymes start to stretch thin, relying on lists (“Parade your bellies from here to Spain. / Bellies in the desert! / Bellies in the rain!”), Yaccarino plumps them up with an artful twinkle: A slim, floating, belly-buttoned green alien in a white bikini accompanies “In outer space! In a bikini!” His playful full-page gouaches zip nimbly from thought to thought and invest the whole with a generous dollop of whimsy.

Delightful art adds panache to this simple ode to a familiar body part. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-64958-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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Ideal for any community where children count.

COUNTING ON COMMUNITY

A difficult concept is simply and strikingly illustrated for the very youngest members of any community, with a counting exercise to boot.

From the opening invitation, “Living in community, / it's a lot of FUN! / Lets count the ways. / Lets start with ONE,” Nagaro shows an urban community that is multicultural, supportive, and happy—exactly like the neighborhoods that many families choose to live and raise their children in. Text on every other page rhymes unobtrusively. Unlike the vocabulary found in A Is for Activist (2013), this book’s is entirely age-appropriate (though some parents might not agree that picketing is a way to show “that we care”). In A Is for Activist, a cat was hidden on each page; this time, finding the duck is the game. Counting is almost peripheral to the message. On the page with “Seven bikes and scooters and helmets to share,” identifying toys in an artistic heap is confusing. There is only one helmet for five toys, unless you count the second helmet worn by the girl riding a scooter—but then there are eight items, not seven. Seven helmets and seven toys would have been clearer. That quibble aside, Nagara's graphic design skills are evident, with deep colors, interesting angles, and strong lines, in a mix of digital collage and ink.

Ideal for any community where children count. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60980-632-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A cozy read for bibliophiles.

SNOWMAN'S STORY

With echoes of “Frosty the Snowman” in the background, a snowman’s storybook within this wordless book delivers a comic wintertime romp.

Woodland creatures build a snowman, giving him a green book as a finishing touch. This addition comes right after a windswept top hat lands on his head, vivifying him à la Frosty. Hidden inside is a rabbit (it is a magic hat, after all); attentive readers will have seen the hat first on frontmatter pages and then with the bunny in the double-page spreads before the early ones devoted to the snowman’s construction. The snowman reads his book aloud to the animals, with the rabbit surreptitiously listening in, its ears poking out of the top of the hat. When the others all drift off to sleep, the bunny emerges and steals away with the book. A chase ensues across snowy terrain and through a series of pages (perhaps a few too many for good pacing) replete with comic-style panels. When the animals and snowman confront the rabbit in its tree-hollow home, its motivation for book thievery is revealed: This bunny has a family and wishes to share the story with its children. All’s well that ends well, and the animals convene (safely outside and away from the rabbit family’s crackling fireplace) to read together.

A cozy read for bibliophiles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4787-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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