Tired of learning about the same-old, same-old “cat” and “rabbit”? Here’s an opportunity to meet 26 new animal friends.
Opening on a verso with the usual critters and a recto crammed with lesser-known species, an awkwardly rhyming introduction challenges readers to learn more about unusual animals. Abruptly, the book then transitions into a traditional ABC format with “A is for Alpaca,” presenting one letter and animal per page, a change that makes it read like an awkwardly stitched-together rhyming book and alphabet book. Its goal of broadening awareness of animal diversity is laudable, but with the creatures sporting only names and no other supporting information, readers might remain lost about what exactly is a “fossa” or a “quokka.” Thankfully, the book finds its hooves and paws with its graphically gorgeous design and illustrations. Showy, stylized animals achieve a delicate balance between cute yet realistic, and they look especially spiffy against sleekly patterned or richly saturated pastel backgrounds. Each double-page spread offers its own harmonious color combination, so the bright pink highlights and green-striped background of the “okapi” inversely mirror the opposite page’s “pademelon” and its vivid pink background and bushes in shades of green.
Though this feels rather like a bound set of attractive animal-themed flashcards, it might be just right for keen young zoologists. (Board book. 1-4)