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1, 2, 3, DO THE SHARK

Dance activities for children to mimic and a narrative with mild suspense will make this one a storytime hit.

Pure fantasy and fun in an extra-large board book.

This companion volume to 1, 2, 3, Do the Dinosaur (2020) exploits the popularity of the song “Baby Shark.” Bess, her strawberry-blond braids peeking out from under the hood of her blue shark costume, sings and dances through an imaginary undersea world. Somewhat wordy verses and clunky rhymes tell a story “deep beneath the waves.” A huge storm whips the seaweed into motion, and Bess’ ocean friends are scared. Bess “flipped her tail and told them, / ‘Don’t be scared, just copy me.’ ” When a real shark shows up, it just wants to be included. Other illogical story elements underlie the tale and stretch credulity: Bess can breathe underwater? Sea creatures are scared by the motion of the water? Bess is firmly in charge of this fantasy. The cartoonlike sea creatures, including the toothy shark, follow her lead in an underwater dance. There’s a brief moment of suspense when the shark opens his mouth wide, but the page turn reveals “a great white smile.” On the final spread, the pace slows as Bess asks her friends to stretch their fins, wrap them tightly around their bodies, and “snuggle down. / 1, 2, 3….Sleep tight.”

Dance activities for children to mimic and a narrative with mild suspense will make this one a storytime hit. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68464-317-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Who knew that turning the pages could be the best part of a book?

Counting down one by one, 10 birds fall off a branch.

The concept of this picture book is simple enough: 10 birds topple, slip, and dive their way off the titular twig until there is one left. The text itself echoes familiar singsong-y children’s rhymes like “Five Little Pumpkins.” While it mostly succeeds, there are some awkward spots: “5 on a twig, there used to be more… / SNAP! Don’t say a word, now there are four.” (On each page the number is both spelled out and represented as a numeral). The real scene stealer, however, is the book’s interplay between Cole’s illustrations and the physical pages themselves. In much the same way Eric Carle utilizes the pages in The Very Hungry Caterpillar to show the little critter eating its way through the week, Cole uses pages of increasing width to show how the twig grows shorter as each bird falls and marches off purposefully with the others, all headed toward verso with pieces of twig in their beaks. Stylistically, the book is captivating. The very colorful, egg-shaped birds appear on a single, thin black line on a stark white background. This backdrop stands in powerful contrast to the book’s final two pages, which are set against black negative space, a theme echoed in the book’s feather-print endpapers. The heavy, thick pages make it easy for little hands to participate. The text takes a back seat to the playful and compelling design, which is sure to delight readers.

Who knew that turning the pages could be the best part of a book? (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72821-593-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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