The forced rhymes will be too painful for some readers, but very patient children will find it hilarious and surreal and a...

A HOOPOE SAYS OOP!

ANIMALS OF ISRAEL

Any author can find a rhyme for “cow” or “moo.”

By the time they start school, most kids have read dozens of books about farm animals, but they may not have seen an ibex or a hyrax or a hoopoe. This board book would make an excellent compendium for children who want to be zoologists, but it creates a huge challenge for the author: Almost nothing rhymes with “ibex.” She goes out of her way to work around the problem: “Ibexes on crater ledges / Call out ‘Maa!’ and walk the edges.” Every couplet is awkward, but every new animal is surprising, and Kuman finds unexpected ways of painting them. Her bats are shaped like Chinese dumplings, and her camels are an unexpected assortment of geometric objects: a mountain peak perched atop a tiny rectangle underneath a slightly lopsided eggplant. The book also provides a variety of sound effects. The last two pages are crammed with “chirrup”s and “urr”s and “oop”s. It feels as though an entire encyclopedia of animals—a very odd one—has been squeezed into 12 pages. The book also gives kids an incentive to travel. The cover copy says, “Meet some of Israel’s unique animals.”

The forced rhymes will be too painful for some readers, but very patient children will find it hilarious and surreal and a little startling, and they’ll learn years’ worth of animal facts before they reach kindergarten. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-0049-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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The book is a terrific, if slight, way to introduce toddlers to Israel. The only danger is that they’ll spend the rest of...

LISTEN!

ISRAEL'S ALL AROUND

Some people believe that the sound effects are the best part of a comic book. This story is for them.

If someone removed all the words from a graphic novel except for the sound effects, it would sound a lot like this board book. Sample text: “Rumble, bumble, zoom, zoom, zoom. / Kibbutz tractors vroom, vroom, vroom.” The book is a sort of Gerald McBoing-Boing guide to Israel, highlighting a different cultural activity on every page. Key words appear in brightly colored letters: In addition to kibbutz, for instance, there are “palm trees,” “falafel,” “pita,” “windmill,” and “matkot” (an Israeli game that’s similar to beach tennis but without a net). Mack’s digital illustrations are so stylized that, charmingly, the children in the pictures are shaped just like their matkot paddles. The pictures feature every shade of skin tone, which will make Israel even more appealing to many readers. The constant sound effects don’t leave much room for an in-depth look at Israeli culture, but the variety of activities covered in a 12-page book is impressive, and “pock, pock, pock!” is a surprisingly effective summary of matkot.

The book is a terrific, if slight, way to introduce toddlers to Israel. The only danger is that they’ll spend the rest of the day saying “glub, glub, glub” and “pock, pock, pock!” (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-0969-6

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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The photographs carry this board book even though the presentation and text disappoint.

DIWALI LIGHTS

Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the largest Hindu festivals, and it’s celebrated all around the world; this nonfiction board book presents its sights, sounds, and celebrations.

Each page of brief, often rhyming text is paired with a vivid photograph depicting wide-eyed toddlers and young children of the Indian diaspora, with dark hair and skin of varying shades of brown. These photographs are the best feature of this book. The text, as narrated by an adult to a young child, talks about the various aspects of the Diwali celebration, including new clothes, prayers, henna, sweets, firecrackers. It occasionally reads awkwardly, and readers may have to hunt for rhymes: “Buy diyas, candles / and paper lanterns.// Henna for hands / and rangoli sand.” With its focus on very young children, the book shows how Diwali is celebrated rather than why. However, notably absent is the holiday’s important community aspect. And although there are multiple mentions of diyas, these beautiful clay lamps that are a highlight of this festival are neither depicted nor explained; neither are such other specialized vocabulary as “jaan” or “rangoli.” A short note at the back of the book gives a smidge more information for older children. There are not many board books for very young kids on this topic, and this one is not everything it could have been.

The photographs carry this board book even though the presentation and text disappoint. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1908-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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