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by Janik Coat & illustrated by Janik Coat

Age Range: 2 - 5

Pub Date: May 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4197-0151-1
Publisher: abramsappleseed

A distinctive offering stands out in the crowded field of concept contenders.

Opposite pairs (one to each spread) play themselves out against a hippo's silhouette. The graphically simple animal, with two small dots for eyes and a square-ish backside, demonstrates various ideas through perspective, color, texture and cut-outs, among others. Small/large positions the hippo next to a skyscraper and a mite; soft/rough finds the animal's outline filled with fuzzy fabric and burlap. Sophisticated use of positive and negative space creates some dazzling patterns that anticipate optical-illusion puzzles. The term “dotted” places formidable red polka-dots all over the hippo, providing the only spatial definition against the white background, with "striped" doing the same on the next page. Some abstract choices may not be clear enough for the young audience traditionally served by this format, though the large trim size and sturdy pages support repeat readings. A few of the obscure choices (opaque/transparent, positive/negative) will need both more context and time for a full understanding, making this a book that will grow with its audience.

The hippo is the only lumbering element in this visually striking exploration. (Board book. 2-5)