Quibbles won’t prevent readers from diving in and marveling

READ REVIEW

DEEP IN THE OCEAN

Follow a silver submarine through grand adventures in this French import.

When readers open the durable, oversized cardboard pages they’re immersed in gorgeous, sweeping digital renderings of colorful ocean ecosystems. There’s only a smattering of plot: A tiny submarine plunges underwater to explore but is whisked off course by a violent storm, ultimately traveling to the Arctic, along coral reefs, down to the ocean’s dark trenches, and back up to the sunny surface. Conversationally narrated as though readers are riding along, the text names the species depicted and provides clues to help locate and identify most from among the busyness, though some specimens are missing any contextual hint and would benefit from a label or key. The teeny, thin type is also tricky to see against the large pages. An accompanying, digitally accessible ocean soundtrack is nicely atmospheric but also suffers from vagueness, as without track markers, it’s challenging to match the page with specific movements. But the immersive, multilayered art teeming with intricately drawn crowds of sea creatures set on ethereal backgrounds and the feeling of grand scale admirably capture the majesties under the sea. Variegated background shades of blue and green make the colorful underwater flora and fauna glisten, especially the metallic-inked silver sub and dynamic neon pink and Day-Glo yellow highlights.

Quibbles won’t prevent readers from diving in and marveling . (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3356-7

Page Count: 14

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.

SHARKS

From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Attractive but disappointing.

WILD ANIMAL SOUNDS

From the Little Kids First Board Books series

National Geographic brings its gorgeous, accurate wildlife photography to toddlers.

One double-page spread is devoted to each of 10 animals (some may feel that calling chipmunks, frogs, and ducks “wild” is stretching it a bit). The animals hail from all over the map—from an elephant and a zebra to a black bear and a wolf. The sound each creature makes begins the text, followed by a sentence speculating what the animal might be communicating. Six of the spreads highlight an additional animal fact in a bright yellow circle. White thought bubbles on seven spreads that attempt to inject humor are less successful. For example, in response to the wolf’s howl, the wolf pups think, “Should we answer?” Similarly, on a different spread, the primary text reads, “Roar! Time for dinner, the mother tiger calls.” The tiger cub wonders in response, “What’s the catch of the day?” The typical board-book audience of babies and toddlers will not get the jokes, and preschoolers are ready for more-substantial books. The needless anthropomorphization detracts from what could be simple, useful nonfiction. The final spread reprises six of the animals in a guessing game to “Match the animals with the sounds they make.” Ocean, published simultaneously, is similarly formatted (and flawed), but all the creatures featured share the ocean habitat.

Attractive but disappointing. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3466-5

Page Count: 26

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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