Lovely, if a bit frustrating.

READ REVIEW

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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Genial starter nonfiction.

THE HUMAN BODY

From the PlayTabs series

Panels activated by sliding tabs introduce youngsters to the human body.

The information is presented in matter-of-fact narration and captioned, graphically simple art featuring rounded lines, oversized heads and eyes, and muted colors. The sliding panels reveal new scenes on both sides of the page, and arrows on the large tabs indicate the direction to pull them (some tabs work left and right and others up and down). Some of the tabs show only slight changes (a white child reaches for a teddy bear, demonstrating how arms and hands work), while others are much more surprising (a different white child runs to a door and on the other side of the panel is shown sitting on the toilet). The double-page spreads employ broad themes as organizers, such as “Your Body,” “Eating Right,” and “Taking Care of Your Body.” Much of the content is focused on the outside of the body, but one panel does slide to reveal an X-ray image of a skeleton. While there are a few dark brown and amber skin tones, it is mostly white children who appear in the pages to demonstrate body movements, self-care, visiting the doctor, senses, and feelings. The companion volume, Baby Animals, employs the same style of sliding panels to introduce youngsters to little critters and their parents, from baboons to penguins.

Genial starter nonfiction. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40800-850-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Youngsters will enjoy the playful art if they aren’t overwhelmed by the busy design.

MRS. PEANUCKLE'S BUG ALPHABET

From the Mrs. Peanuckle's Alphabet Library series , Vol. 4

From Ant to Zorapteran, each page presents a variety of insects, both commonplace and obscure.

Narrator Mrs. Peanuckle, who enjoys sharing her likes and dislikes and writing about herself in the third person, has penned one to two sentences of quirky description and interesting facts for each insect representing a different letter of the alphabet: “L is for Ladybug / The loveliest of insects. They help Mrs. Peanuckle by eating the bugs on her roses!” The text often takes up most of the page and employs a different typeface per word, thus making the pages difficult to scan—often the featured letter of the alphabet merges with the name of the insect (“Inchworm” looks as though it has two I’s, for example). Ford’s lively insects skitter around the words in luminescent color; as with any effective insect book, there’s just enough detail to provoke interest without an ick-response. The companion book, Mrs. Peanuckle’s Flower Alphabet, presents blooms from Aster to Zinnia, with the same formula but with a more winsome approach to the art; here many of the flowers sport smiling faces in the same bold color palette.

Youngsters will enjoy the playful art if they aren’t overwhelmed by the busy design. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62336-939-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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