Engaging art and attention to cadence and rhythm should make for a read-aloud winner.

A HOP IS UP

A dog and child walk around their neighborhood.

An adorable little white pup with black spots and a brownish patch over its eye nearly springs off the cover and into readers’ laps, setting the tone for the story within. The title page showcases the eager canine, leash in mouth, while the copyright and dedication spread feature the sprightly pooch already leaping along the sidewalk, its child trailing behind. Richmond’s ink, watercolor, and digital art creates a homey city with soft-colored brownstones, storefronts, and people of varying shades. The first page of text echoes the title, declaring, “a hop is up,” while the illustration shows the little white child holding the leash as the excitable canine hops on a gate. Observant readers will spy the reason for the dog’s hop, which becomes readily apparent in the next spread. Bicyclists, dancers, and others offer examples of direction, movement, and motion. Richmond highlights exemplifying characters with bold colors, favoring a more muted palette for background people and places. The charming, minimalist ball of furry energy is adorable in both form and exuberance (indeed, those paws rarely touch the ground!). A child of color protagonist would have been nice, but there are plenty of diverse skin tones in the supporting cast.

Engaging art and attention to cadence and rhythm should make for a read-aloud winner. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-390-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

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 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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While the likely answer is no, this offering is still a visually captivating delight for careful little ones. (Board book....

ALPHABLOCK

From the Block Books series

In this ABC book, shaped pages lead readers to corresponding objects.

The usual alphabet objects are presented here in the straightforward text: “A IS FOR... // APPLE.” The graphically appealing design devotes two double-page spreads to each letter. In the first spread, the right-hand side is a full-size, die-cut letter, while the left depicts a scene. A portion of the object, animal or person the featured letter stands for peeks through the die-cut openings; a cheery, red octopus smiles through the hole of the “O,” and the tail of a fish is visible from behind the “F.” Once the letter/page is turned, the background from the previous left-hand page blends seamlessly with the full double-page spread that’s revealed. The visual hints provide a playful guessing game for young readers, with a nice balance of the easily recognizable (the nose of a train emerges from behind the “T”) to the slightly more challenging (the handle of a pair of scissors sticks out from the middle of the “S”). With a pleasing, retro feel, Peskimo’s art uses bold colors in a slightly muted hue and the weathered look of woodblock prints. The book’s construction is the only real concern, as 104 board pages are a lot for any binding. Will the die-cut letters survive the vigorous page turns of doubtless eager readers?

While the likely answer is no, this offering is still a visually captivating delight for careful little ones. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0936-4

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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