A fresh tribute to the creative possibilities of letter-form art: stylish and sophisticated.

ANIMOLOGY

THE BIG BOOK OF LETTER ART ALPHABEASTS

A large-format letter-art menagerie from the Australian creator of Spellbound: Making Pictures With the A-B-C (2016).

Coote freely mixes typefaces, sizes, weights, and orientations but uses only the letters in the names of her animals (often repeatedly) to create 36 portraits—each on its own spread and rendered in a different, vivid color scheme. Presented in no discernible order, the animals, ranging from frog to koala, with elk, crab, and Afghan hound, among others, in between, are all composed of elaborate swirls and cascades, from which viewers are invited to pick out the letters with help from typographically consonant captions. While the pictures alone are an eyeful, the rhymed quatrains that accompany each add not only further letter-related prompts, but fresh washes of wit: “The hues of a chameleon / Depend on what she’s kneeling on.” (The emu’s reference to being on a “coat-of-arms” may confuse readers on this end of the Pacific, but a closing page of typographical and natural-history notes, in very tiny type, includes an explanation.) Budding letter detectives who’ve honed their skills on similarly themed outings such as Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich’s magisterial Bembo’s Zoo (2000) or Michael Arndt’s clever Cat Says Meow (2014) will still find their work cut out for them here.

A fresh tribute to the creative possibilities of letter-form art: stylish and sophisticated. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9924917-9-6

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Melbournestyle Books/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters.

THE NOT BAD ANIMALS

Forty-two creatures of ill repute, from scorpions to hyenas, put on their best faces and protest that they’re just misunderstood.

In paired double-page spreads, Corrigan first presents for each animal the case for considering it scary or gross, then, with the page turn, allows it to contradict itself. “I’m creepy and I’m crawly,” a spider supposedly gloats. “I spin webs from my butt and leave them in places where I KNOW you’ll get stuck in them.” In the following spread, the spider points out that “Only half of my kind spin webs, and we really, REALLY don’t want you to get stuck in them!” Along with pointing to roles in the natural order and including many crowd-pleasing references to butts and poop, these counterarguments tend to run along the lines of the rat’s “I’m a fluffy little SWEETIE!” and the toad’s “I am a plump lump of CUTENESS!” Each testimonial is backed up by a box of background information baldly labeled “FACTS.” Readers may find the chorus of smiley faces and claims of adorability unconvincing, but they will at least come away with more nuanced impressions of each creepy-crawly. The humorous cartoon illustrations don’t measure up to the in-your-face photos of Seymour Simon’s classic Animals Nobody Loves (2001), but this gallery of beasties unfairly regarded as “icky and ewwy and downright gross” is considerably broader.

An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4748-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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