CHEW, CHEW, GULP!

As four youngsters manipulate and maneuver the food and drink set before them, swirling and scooping playfully take center stage. In isolated scenes and small-group settings, the children devour each offering with gusto while a small label accompanies each featured snack. The emphasis here is on the eating process instead of the snacks ingested. Many actions depict the actual manner in which items may be eaten (popcorn popped into a mouth or the crunch of teeth on a carrot). A few connections are a little on the flimsy side; the words “prod it” depict a young boy poking a single tomato, hand on hip and one eye closed. Typography varies dramatically to accentuate each pointed beat. “Sip it. / Nip it. / Pick it. / Lick it. / Nibble it. / Crumble it. / Jab, jab, / POKE!” Often-monosyllabic text rhythmically flows into clipped phrases to complete each strand. Though the children portrayed cross racial boundaries, there’s no global emphasis (chopsticks are absent, for instance). Similar in stature and ability, the children approach each action with joy, though, occasionally, vacant wide-eyed stares stunt expressiveness. Simple background design creates a soothing pattern. Not a lot of food for thought, but an enthusiastic, fast-paced feast nonetheless. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 24, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9744-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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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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An inventive and extensive counting experience that will delight youngsters.

COUNTABLOCK

From the Block Books series

Shaped pages help youngsters count to 10 and beyond.

Two stylish double-page spreads are devoted to each number one through 10 and then, counting by 10s, to 100. In the first spread, the right-hand side is a page-high, die-cut numeral that spills off the page; to its left, a squirrel holds an acorn. With the turn of the page, there’s a transformation. “One acorn becomes… / one oak tree!” A portion of the object, animal or person being altered is visible through the die-cut openings; a sand castle peeks through the “0” of the number 10, for instance. Once the page is turned, the background from the previous left-hand page merges with the full double-page spread. As in the earlier Alphablock (2013), the helpfulness of these visual hints is uneven. After 10, 20 caterpillars become 20 butterflies, 30 baskets of cucumbers become 30 jars of pickles, and 40 eggs become 39 chicks and one dinosaur. The whole shebang ends with 100 puzzle pieces fitting together into “one big puzzle!” in the book’s only double gatefold. Peskimo’s muted color palette and droll cartoon style works well with the playful concept. The same worries about the binding that arose with Alphablock are an issue here, but the conceit will likely appeal to older children anyway.

An inventive and extensive counting experience that will delight youngsters. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1374-3

Page Count: 94

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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