Park and Reinhardt present 18 animal homograph pairs that illustrate for readers what they mean.
While the text is intentionally simple to the extreme—“Bugs bug bugs”—the watercolor-and-ink illustrations slyly complete the meanings for readers. In this case, bugs of all sorts set out to annoy one another in any way possible: one beetle chucks seeds at another, a cockroach plugs the ants’ hole, etc. In each double-page spread, Reinhardt unobtrusively places the definition of each word: “to bug = to annoy,” though the language in these is sometimes difficult and will require adult help (“to ape = to mimic,” for instance). Other animals include flounder, quail, ape, parrot, badger, slug, crane, and crow. The illustrations provide just enough details to make the meanings clear and to entertain readers—tail feathers are on prominent display on the “Duck, ducks!” page, and no child will forget the memorable “Steers steer” page, showing bovines driving bumper cars. The animals sport slightly anthropomorphized facial expressions that are easy to read. Backmatter presents a chart of the 18 words and the origins of both the animal name and the action.
An excellent and entertaining vocabulary builder: pair this with Betsy Rosenthal’s An Ambush of Tigers, 2015, illustrated by Jago, for more clever, educational wordplay. (Picture book. 4-10)