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Too much trick and not enough treat.

Zoo animals dress up for Halloween trick-or-treat in this lift-the-flap board book.

Rhyming text and interactive features should guarantee a hit with toddlers. Unfortunately, the rhythm is off. Poor scansion makes even acceptable rhymes like “toe” and “glow” or “tune” and “moon” awkward. “Guess Boo?” inserted after each verse is confusing for young children just learning to play “Guess who?” games. The large flaps in each double-page spread are almost the same size as the page they hide; that they can be lifted is only implied by the decorative die-cut edges, and their thinness makes them quite difficult for small fingers to grasp. Similarly, the notion of costumed animals is a promising premise, but the wordplay introduced by Burton assumes too much background knowledge for the board-book audience. For example giraffes are dressed as “Giraffenstein,” penguins as “Penguincesses,” and monkeys as “Apirate.” These made-up words are difficult to pronounce and assume young children will recognize Frankenstein, princess, and pirate costumes when they turn the flaps. The fact that singular nouns are used to describe some of these groups of costumed animals is also confusing. The “Under-wearwolves” are particularly obscure. (And what toddler knows underwear as “tighty-whities”?)

Too much trick and not enough treat. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2033-5

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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

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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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