With the feel of a fine and handsome tintype, this Austrian import makes night newly beguiling.

AT NIGHT

For all but a few, the night is a foreign country.

Dreams are when the world turns upside down and inside out, and Bansch does a superb job illustrating its kooky-spooky state. Here, a dozen creatures settle in for the night: the elephant in the tall grass, the bird in its nest, the cat by the stove, the bat, wrapped in a red blanket, in its cave. The artwork is a sophisticated use of collage—for instance, beautiful examples of 19th-century European cartography become tree trunks—with color deployed for special effect and spidery linework adding a creepy-crawly quality. Dark shades are complemented by snappy red tulips in the elephant’s shadowy grass, and the polar bear’s cave is a luminous, delicate light blue. While the text is minimal, it is also evocative: “The dog slumbers in his cozy doghouse, / and the polar bear snores loudly in his ice cave.” Midbook, when the moon is full on one page and in full eclipse on the next, the book must be turned around and started from the other end. Then the youngest listeners will get the topsy-turvies of dreamtime: “But sometimes at night the elephant dreams in the bird’s nest, / the cat purrs in a burrow on a cushion of hay, / and the bird lies in the tall grass.” All’s fair in the Land of Nod, and inviting, too.

With the feel of a fine and handsome tintype, this Austrian import makes night newly beguiling. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5471-1

Page Count: 41

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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