In rhyming verse, a series of “if…then” statements presents animals and their young while expressing parental love.
Unfortunately, the slight concept is brought down by a number of missteps. The first is poor logic, evident from the opening parent-child animal pair: “If you were a calf, then I’d be a moose.” While it is true that baby moose are called calves, they are hardly the only animals whose young bear that moniker. Even children with very little exposure to the concept will likely know that baby cattle are also called calves, and they may well know that elephant and whale babies are called calves as well. So why, if they were a calf, would their parent necessarily be a moose? Several other examples share this weakness, including chicks (loons), kits (skunks), and pups (bats)—and these are just in the first two double-page spreads. Even when the name for the baby is sufficiently restrictive for the logic to work, stumbling verse often lets readers down: “If you were a cygnet, then I’d be a swan. / I’d teach you to ride on my back, just hop on!” Saylor’s cut-paper–collage illustrations are bright and attractive, depicting smiling but otherwise fairly realistic animal pairs. They replicate a frequent error, however, in representing a wasps’ nest instead of the beehive it’s meant to be (possibly wisely, there is no attempt to depict the “larva” of the verse).
Misses the mark. (Informational picture book. 3-5)