From the Neon Animals Picture Books series

For those who need one more pounce before bed.

A tiger searches for a play date in the jungle.

Tara isn’t ready for bed. She wants to play one more game, but who will play with her? She spies some fluttering wings in the sky. Perhaps they belong to someone who wants to play. “Let’s tell Tara to tiptoe up quietly / so she doesn’t scare them away,” cautions the narrator. But oh no! Tara doesn’t tiptoe. Her pounce frightens the butterflies away (“Can you flutter your arms / up and down really fast?”). Then Tara spies some owls in a tree (“How many owls can you count?”). This time Tara tiptoes, but she also roars. Oh, Tara. The owls swoop away. (“I bet you can roar just as loudly as Tara.”) The interactive prompts aren’t just animal sounds and actions; there is also some light mathematics: “But look! There’s a tail / dangling down from a tree. / Can you stretch your arms wide / to show how long it is?” Teckentrup’s bright orange feline stands out against the large, blocky foliage and silhouetted moon. The palette gradually darkens as the night stretches on and Tara finally settles down, snuggled and content, with the (perhaps naïve) hope that readers will do so, too. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

For those who need one more pounce before bed. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2750-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022



Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016


Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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