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From the First Concepts with Fine Artists series

Simultaneously simple and sophisticated—but not for the baby and toddler board-book crowd; older preschoolers learning to...

An anthology of Picasso’s animal sketches from various collections including birds, insects, and various mammals.

With pencil and ink reproduced on backgrounds that look like aging white paper (just like the originals), these drawings display a childlike spontaneity. With very few marks, Picasso reduced the animals down to their most basic forms; many look as though they were drawn with one stroke of a pen. An ostrich consists of one leg, a long neck and beak, and a circular scribble at the rear for a tail, and a horse consists of three downward strokes for legs, a boot-shaped head, and two circles at the top of the legs for shoulder and haunch. While his technique is impressive by any standard, the primary audience for board books, babies and toddlers, are still learning to identify each animals’ basic qualities, and these sketches may not serve that goal. Each image is paired with a phrase or sentence at the bottom of the page, often sharing facts both obvious and surprising. (The text is uncredited.) The backmatter includes a short biography of Picasso and much-too-small-to-be-useful facsimiles of the original drawings the sketches were pulled from.

Simultaneously simple and sophisticated—but not for the baby and toddler board-book crowd; older preschoolers learning to make their own representational drawings will be inspired. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7418-0

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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From the Block Books series

Captivating—and not a bit terrifying.

Catering to young scientists, naturalists, and Shark Week fans–to-be, this visually arresting volume presents a good deal of information in easily digested bites.

Like others in the Block Books series, this book feels both compact and massive. When closed, it is 5.5 inches across, 6.5 inches tall, and nearly 2 inches thick, weighty and solid, with stiff cardboard pages that boast creative die cuts and numerous fold-out three- and four-panel tableaux. While it’s possible it’s not the only book with a dorsal fin, it certainly must be among the best. The multiracial cast of aquarium visitors includes a Sikh man with his kids and a man of color who uses a wheelchair; there they discover the dramatic degree of variations among sharks. The book begins with a trip to a shark exhibit, complete with a megalodon jaw. The text points out that there are over 400 known types of sharks alive today, then introduces 18 examples, including huge whale sharks, tiny pocket sharks, and stealthy, well-camouflaged wobbegongs. Reef sharks prowl the warm waters of the surface, while sand tiger sharks explore shipwrecks on the ocean floor. Bioluminescent catsharks reside at the bottom of an inky black flap that folds down, signifying the deepest ocean depths, where no sunlight penetrates. Great whites get star treatment with four consecutive two-page spreads; their teeth and appetite impress but don’t horrify. The book does a wonderful job of highlighting the interconnectedness of species and the importance of environmental stewardship.

Captivating—and not a bit terrifying. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4119-7

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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May appeal to kids who like visual puzzles but a bit too two-dimensional to generate much excitement.

Triangles combine to hint at various creatures.

The book is composed of a sequence of colorful spreads whose imagery consists of collaged shapes on backgrounds with a texture resembling soft paper. Forests are represented by green triangles of varying hues, the ocean by blue shapes, and the savanna by orange and brown. Each spread contains a constellation of different-sized equilateral triangles representing a few features of an animal—nose, eyes, ears, horns, tusks—hinted at in a brief rhyming riddle. Some of the animals are relatively easy to guess (a fox, a toothy shark), but some are not. In some cases the conceit is far-fetched, as in “The rings around my eyes / might seem like a disguise. / Can you see me?” There is a clear disconnect in depicting a raccoon’s mask as triangles, as there is in showing an owl’s round eyes as triangles. In some images the mystery animal is represented in profile, which may be difficult for some children, and in others the shapes are so sparse as to be highly challenging to interpret. The focus on triangles may limit the interest the book generates for children once they’ve guessed which animal is represented. Those inclined to give up will regret the absence of a picture key.

May appeal to kids who like visual puzzles but a bit too two-dimensional to generate much excitement. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5248-5372-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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