Overall, this is a fun and thought-provoking book by a talented illustrator with a knack for wordless storytelling.

ONE PIECE OF STRING

A piece of string can be many things in this cleverly illustrated wordless board book.

When a piece of string is removed from a brown paper package, it takes on new roles, both predictable and surprising. Whether as a clothesline, a rabbit, or a bowl of spaghetti, the string twists and turns its way into a series of visually stimulating, child-friendly pictures. The absence of text in the book gives children and their caregivers the opportunity to invent stories about each page after they have identified the at-times-elusive string. Jocelyn’s (Sam Sorts, 2017) ingenious collage-style illustrations effectively combine patterns and strong, bold blocks of color into highly textured results. The inclusion of a picture of a woman of color (with tightly curled hair made by the string) is a welcome addition to a genre that does not often stray from white, straight-haired characters. Unlike One Red Button (2017), which uses a similar conceit with a red button, the string can be challenging for very young readers to find, as when it forms the eyes of an owl or a bolt of lightning.

Overall, this is a fun and thought-provoking book by a talented illustrator with a knack for wordless storytelling. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1318-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A fishy tale that doesn't quite swim in the crowded sea of concept books

BIG FISH LITTLE FISH

From the My Little World series

A mix of marine-life fact and fiction introduces opposites.

With its iconic shape, the eye-catching cover cutout of a bright-orange fish is instantly appealing. Layered die cuts of decreasing size provide texture and handholds for little fingers and form the bodies of varying species of fish. Information about fish habits and habitats is crammed into wordy rhymes with the opposing terms in boldface, but the accuracy of those facts is debatable. Though it’s fair to call the eel “long and very wiggly,” contrasting it with a generic, short yellow fish that’s a rhyme-forced “giggly” introduces a jarring anthropomorphism. In fact, stereotypical human emotions or motivations are attributed to the fish on almost every page. On another page, the slow fish (the only fish not painted with a smile) says, “Even with a big head start, I knew I'd finish last”—a distressingly defeatist message in an otherwise cheery board book. Inexplicably, the final spread depicts all the fish in party hats—turning it into a birthday book. While this may extend its use in day cares, it doesn't help young children learn opposites.

A fishy tale that doesn't quite swim in the crowded sea of concept books . (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58925-215-8

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary.

MY FIRST BUSY BOOK

From the World of Eric Carle series

The latest addition to the World of Eric Carle is proof that the Wilder Award–winning picture-book creator knows what appeals to children.

This board book is both developmentally appropriate and aesthetically pleasing—perfect for toddlers. In a sturdy, oversize (10 1/2 inches square) format, Carle recycles iconic images from his vast canon to introduce shapes, colors, numbers, animals, and sounds. The flower on the cover is almost (but not quite) identical to the flower that grows from The Tiny Seed (1970). Seeing the animals throughout the pages is like recognizing old friends. But Carle and the book’s designer, Hannah Frece, put these familiar images to fresh uses to create a logical, accessible, and harmonious concept book. Although billed as a “busy book,” it is not hyperactive, using just five or six images per spread. From the mirror that lights up the sun on the cover to the touch-and-feel inserts on the page about animals to the single flap that hides a mouse from a cat, the tactile elements have been chosen with intention instead of just as gimmicks. On other pages, foils and textures are subtle, with many barely raised images that invite tracing.

A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5791-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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