A fine showcase for the illustrator’s talents, but a thin entry in a crowded field.

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DRIVE

A LOOK AT ROADSIDE OPPOSITES

One-word captions (and two short phrases) point out opposites of diverse sorts on a road trip through town and countryside.

Between an urban “Start” and a “Finish” at a woodsy cabin, a station wagon piled high with suitcases rolls along through stylized, neatly limned settings. It goes over a long, straight suspension bridge that divides “Above” from “Below” and patterned, layered lines of mountain peaks that likewise separate “High” from “Low.” It motors past “One” donkey sharing a field with “Many” (seven, plus a calf) cows, a “Young” tree sprouting beneath a rugged “Old” one, and so on. Hatanaka takes advantage of a gutter to keep “Day” from “Night,” light to distinguish an “Open” shop from one that is “Closed,” and a double gatefold to contrast “Worm’s-Eye View” with “Bird’s-Eye View.” A closing visual index recapitulates the entire route. As the actual number of relevant opposites ranges from one pair of items in most scenes to nearly everything on the “Short/Long” spread, the focus seems to be more on adroit visual design than on maximizing opportunities to get a handle on the overall concept. Ramona Badescu and Benjamin Chaud’s Pomelo’s Opposites (2013) and Ingrid and Dieter Schubert’s Opposites (2013) are just two of a plethora of recent ingenious, example-rich titles.

A fine showcase for the illustrator’s talents, but a thin entry in a crowded field. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55498-731-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful.

EGGS ARE EVERYWHERE

An interactive egg hunt with turning-wheel and lift-the-flap elements.

This board book begins by directing readers to find the hidden eggs. Each wheel—there are four in all set into the interior pages—has several different eggs on it, and turning it reveals an egg in a little die-cut window. Spinning it further hides the egg behind one of two lift-the-flap panels—two baskets, for example—and readers must guess behind which they’ll find the egg they have chosen to track. A diagram on the back provides instructions for use, likely more helpful to caregivers than to little ones. There is no narrative in this book; it’s simply page after page of different directives along the lines of “Guess which door!” As a result, the focus is really on manipulatives and the illustrations. Fortunately, Kirwan’s spring-themed artwork is gorgeous. The backdrop of each page is flower- and leaf-themed with warm spring hues, echoing the artwork of Eastern European hand-stenciled Easter eggs, two of which appear at the end of the book. The animals, like the smiling snail and mischievous mice, are reminiscent of classic European fairy-tale creatures. The only human in the book is a dark-skinned child with tight, curly hair. The moveable pieces largely work, though at times the necessary white space under the flaps interrupts the illustration awkwardly, as when the child’s hands suddenly develop large oval holes if the spinner is not in the correct position. Overall, it’s more game than book.

There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7457-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary.

MY FIRST BUSY BOOK

From the World of Eric Carle series

The latest addition to the World of Eric Carle is proof that the Wilder Award–winning picture-book creator knows what appeals to children.

This board book is both developmentally appropriate and aesthetically pleasing—perfect for toddlers. In a sturdy, oversize (10 1/2 inches square) format, Carle recycles iconic images from his vast canon to introduce shapes, colors, numbers, animals, and sounds. The flower on the cover is almost (but not quite) identical to the flower that grows from The Tiny Seed (1970). Seeing the animals throughout the pages is like recognizing old friends. But Carle and the book’s designer, Hannah Frece, put these familiar images to fresh uses to create a logical, accessible, and harmonious concept book. Although billed as a “busy book,” it is not hyperactive, using just five or six images per spread. From the mirror that lights up the sun on the cover to the touch-and-feel inserts on the page about animals to the single flap that hides a mouse from a cat, the tactile elements have been chosen with intention instead of just as gimmicks. On other pages, foils and textures are subtle, with many barely raised images that invite tracing.

A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5791-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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