A cheery springboard for small nature lovers to have their own “Mama, look!” opportunities.

MAMA, LOOK!

What’s better than a young child enjoying a nature walk with Mama?

Why, a nature walk that includes baby animals and their mamas also marveling at the wonders around them. Out on a sunny-day jaunt, a toddler joyfully exclaims, “Mama, LOOK!” at the sight of some grasshoppers. This sighting leads to a tiny grasshopper’s excitedly using the same refrain to draw its own mama’s attention to ants. An ant tyke cries out the words upon seeing brilliantly colored butterflies, and so on, with a young, awestruck creature intoning the titular phrase with each page turn as it spots a critter of another species and habitat. All comes full circle at the end when a child’s fingers are seen through an opening in a beehive (rendered as a wasps’ nest—a too-common mistake) as a startled young insect cries out the by-now-familiar words. Realistic depictions of the natural world aren’t the point here—none of the “infant” insects are appropriately rendered in larval form, for instance, in addition to the incorrect beehive. The cheerful, cartoony animals take center stage and are adorable and brilliantly colored; a sly hint of the creature to come on each successive spread is generally incorporated. The humans, depicted with pinkish-tan skin, fare less well, appearing somewhat static and disproportionate.

A cheery springboard for small nature lovers to have their own “Mama, look!” opportunities. (author and illustrator’s note; suggestions for families) (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0080-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

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 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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