Handsome but odd.

READ REVIEW

THE AMICUS BOOK OF ANIMALS

Meet a varied assortment of animals and learn a brief fact about each one.

There’s no question that the collage-style art here is striking. Boldly clipped animals pose in a sophisticated, modern-looking palette of desaturated primary colors. Illustrator Lundie collages with innovative papers, including weathered graph paper, cardboard, and old maps. Put together, they create a deep, satisfyingly textured feel, as when an old map becomes a cragged iceberg behind aqua waves and a languid-looking narwhal. Textually though, the book flags. One-line factoids such as “Leopard: I’ve got too many spots to count” are correct but bland. There’s no overt connection among the animals, which hail from many habitats, and their labelled sounds are random—why is the readily recognized toucan presented sleeping with a generic “zzzz” noise? The end falls utterly flat, with a confusing raccoon page that suddenly breaks the predictable pattern by introducing a rhetorical question and a peculiar final page featuring a reprisal of all the animals making their strangely chosen sounds: “Oh no! It’s all of us. What a terrible noise!” A companion book on colors features the same lively art but the same dull, nonsensical statements (“Pink is a pretty color”); at least the ending, which asks readers to identify all the colors, is less strained. Extra-thick cardboard pages will hold up to multiple reads.

Handsome but odd. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68152-570-9

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Amicus Ink

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.

SHARKS

From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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More information than toddlers will sit still for; not enough for preschoolers who are outgrowing board books.

MY BODY

From the Hello World! series

An introduction to the body for the youngest readers.

It’s an endlessly fascinating topic, but here it is explained in wordy and needlessly exclamatory detail. On the opening spread three children play: One flies a kite, another plays hopscotch, and a third hangs upside down from a branch while the text explains that “your body can do so many things!” Basic facts about each body part are explained on subsequent spreads—more or less. A spread devoted to the belly button gives no hint to its original purpose. A busy park scene with all the characters and summary text that emphasizes the importance of “Lots of sleep, good food, and plenty of exercise” ends this compendium. McDonald’s attempts to be inclusive don’t quite succeed. A brown-skinned boy playing wheelchair basketball is used to explain arm joints, and there are several other children of color in the book. But on the page about hearing, the brown-skinned tot’s prominent ears and his placement in a tree make him look more like a monkey than a child—an unfortunate association. Many spreads include a question that relates to the topic but could also prove distracting. An additional fact on each spread set in a smaller font is clearly for older children or grown-ups, not toddlers.

More information than toddlers will sit still for; not enough for preschoolers who are outgrowing board books. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6636-8

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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