A clever conceit but a bland execution.

READ REVIEW

HEADS AND TAILS

In this minimalist Australian import, readers are encouraged to guess animals based on select written and visual clues.

On each recto, readers see the hindquarters of an animal, and three simple clues ask them to guess what kind of animal they may belong to. “I have long furry ears and a small nose. / I live in a burrow in the ground. / I have a white fluffy tail. / I AM A….” The splashy watercolor rear legs and tail are ambiguous enough that they may have readers second-guessing the obvious answer. Turning the page, however, readers discover both the well-defined front half of the animal and the animal’s name: “RABBIT.” Canty uses stock 19th-century animal illustrations layered with watercolor enhancements, creating a somber yet surprising tone. Two tailless animals, a frog and human readers, are included in the roster, making the “tails” referenced in the title symbolic rather than literal. Two red herrings, the image of a mouse between the clues for and image of an elephant and (inexplicably) a squirrel leading to a giraffe, fall flat, with no other cues to young readers that they are jokes. The quirky illustrations, earthy colors, and lack of exhibited enthusiasm will make this book’s audience a niche one. There is no backmatter.

A clever conceit but a bland execution. (Informational picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0033-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Genial starter nonfiction.

THE HUMAN BODY

From the PlayTabs series

Panels activated by sliding tabs introduce youngsters to the human body.

The information is presented in matter-of-fact narration and captioned, graphically simple art featuring rounded lines, oversized heads and eyes, and muted colors. The sliding panels reveal new scenes on both sides of the page, and arrows on the large tabs indicate the direction to pull them (some tabs work left and right and others up and down). Some of the tabs show only slight changes (a white child reaches for a teddy bear, demonstrating how arms and hands work), while others are much more surprising (a different white child runs to a door and on the other side of the panel is shown sitting on the toilet). The double-page spreads employ broad themes as organizers, such as “Your Body,” “Eating Right,” and “Taking Care of Your Body.” Much of the content is focused on the outside of the body, but one panel does slide to reveal an X-ray image of a skeleton. While there are a few dark brown and amber skin tones, it is mostly white children who appear in the pages to demonstrate body movements, self-care, visiting the doctor, senses, and feelings. The companion volume, Baby Animals, employs the same style of sliding panels to introduce youngsters to little critters and their parents, from baboons to penguins.

Genial starter nonfiction. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40800-850-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Youngsters will enjoy the playful art if they aren’t overwhelmed by the busy design.

MRS. PEANUCKLE'S BUG ALPHABET

From the Mrs. Peanuckle's Alphabet Library series , Vol. 4

From Ant to Zorapteran, each page presents a variety of insects, both commonplace and obscure.

Narrator Mrs. Peanuckle, who enjoys sharing her likes and dislikes and writing about herself in the third person, has penned one to two sentences of quirky description and interesting facts for each insect representing a different letter of the alphabet: “L is for Ladybug / The loveliest of insects. They help Mrs. Peanuckle by eating the bugs on her roses!” The text often takes up most of the page and employs a different typeface per word, thus making the pages difficult to scan—often the featured letter of the alphabet merges with the name of the insect (“Inchworm” looks as though it has two I’s, for example). Ford’s lively insects skitter around the words in luminescent color; as with any effective insect book, there’s just enough detail to provoke interest without an ick-response. The companion book, Mrs. Peanuckle’s Flower Alphabet, presents blooms from Aster to Zinnia, with the same formula but with a more winsome approach to the art; here many of the flowers sport smiling faces in the same bold color palette.

Youngsters will enjoy the playful art if they aren’t overwhelmed by the busy design. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62336-939-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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