Lovely, if a bit frustrating.

PLUME

The double meaning of the title of this French import will likely be lost on young readers who do not know that “plume” means “feather,” since “Plume” is the name of the black cat who stalks mysteriously through the pages, clearly with evil designs on the birds portrayed.

As with her earlier picture book Blue Hour (2017), Simler portrays her subject matter—birds and their feathers—in finely rendered, realistic detail. However, the birds chosen are not always specifically named, and many species are not found in North America, lessening the book’s appeal for readers on this continent. For example, the nuthatch, jay, and kingfisher featured in the book are Eurasian species, so there is little chance of a child in the U.S. finding one of these feathers or being able to identify them. A gull is simply identified as “Seagull,” likewise for the highly stylized owl; the “Eagle” is clearly a bald eagle. The attractiveness of the illustrations compensates in large part for these flaws. The black cat’s presence is charmingly hinted at in each illustration, sometimes just as an ear, a tail, or a whisker peeking from the edge of the spread, sometimes almost hidden behind the bird. On the last spread, Plume is completely visible, clutching a feather and saying innocently, “Oh…me? / I collect feathers… //…because I love overstuffed pillows. / I am a dreamer cat. / They call me Plume.”

Lovely, if a bit frustrating. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5492-6

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Sure to appeal to budding paleontologists everywhere.

HELLO, DINOSAURS!

From the Animal Facts and Flaps series

Colorful, fun, and informative guide for pint-sized dinosaur enthusiasts.

Kid-friendly and more informative than most dino books for tots, this lift-the-flap dinosaur book is a great next step for any kid with an interest in the subject. Each double-page panorama—occasionally folding out to three or even four pages wide—is organized around types of dinosaurs or habitats. While most featured dinosaurs are land dwellers, prehistoric reptiles of the sea and sky appear as well. Dinosaurs are rendered in bright colors on a white background in a childlike style that makes even Tyrannosaurus rex not too terrifying. Make no mistake, though; the king of the dinosaurs is clearly labeled “CARNIVORE.” Folding T. rex’s head back reveals a black-and-white handsaw, to which the text likens its enormous, sharp teeth. Another marginal illustration, captioned, “Watch out! T. rex is looking for its lunch,” shows a Triceratops specimen on a plate. Yet another reads, “Crushed dinosaur bones have been found in T. rex poop!” Several racially diverse kids appear in each scene, like toddler scientists variously observing, inspecting, and riding on the dinosaurs depicted. In addition to teaching the difference between herbivores and carnivores, the book also conveys a sense of the scale of these prehistoric beasts: Diplodocus is two school buses long, a Triceratops adult is the size of an elephant, and a Velociraptor is the size of a turkey, for example.

Sure to appeal to budding paleontologists everywhere. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0809-2

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A cheery board book to reinforce the oneness of babykind.

BABIES AROUND THE WORLD

Ten babies in 10 countries greet friends in almost 10 languages.

Countries of origin are subtly identified. For example, on the first spread, NYC is emblazoned on a blond, white baby’s hat as well as a brown baby’s scoot-car taxi. On the next spread, “Mexico City” is written on a light brown toddler’s bike. A flag in each illustration provides another hint. However, the languages are not named, so on first reading, the fine but important differences between Spanish and Portuguese are easily missed. This is also a problem on pages showing transliterated Arabic from Cairo and Afrikaans from Cape Town. Similarly, Chinese and Japanese are transliterated, without use of traditional hànzì or kanji characters. British English is treated as a separate language, though it is, after all, still English. French (spoken by 67 million people) is included, but German, Russian, and Hindi (spoken by 101 million, 145 million, and 370 million respectively) are not. English translations are included in a slightly smaller font. This world survey comes full circle, ending in San Francisco with a beige baby sleeping in an equally beige parent’s arms. The message of diversity is reinforced by images of three babies—one light brown, one medium brown, one white—in windows on the final spread.

A cheery board book to reinforce the oneness of babykind. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-938093-87-6

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Duo Press

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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