Fans of Thurlby’s recent distinguished entry on the crowded alphabet-book shelves (Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet, 2011) won’t be disappointed by this clever follow-up.
Deceptively simple at first glance—or even first reading—this collection of short phrases paired with bold illustrations and basic facts rewards close examination. From the striped tiger on the cover, peering at potential readers through binoculars, through single-page portraits of other animals—among them a partially green polar bear, Travolta-esque bee (circa Saturday Night Fever), and wary dolphin—and finally to an inquisitive little boy, Thurlby packs the pages with humor. The bee, like all the other illustrations, is accompanied by two captions: “Express yourself” and “Bees talk to one another by dancing in patterns.” The first appears on the picture and in most cases is a familiar phrase, whether transcribed exactly, in pun form or created using homonyms. The second offers a bit of information about the animal pictured as well as providing the inspiration for the artwork. Digitally created, the pictures incorporate elements of painting, collage and printmaking and in some cases include (almost) hidden words or images. Visual jokes, such as a shovel-bodied mole, a nearsighted rabbit’s ears (which look like glasses) and a sunbathing goldfish, further enrich the fun.
Wordplay, visual jokes and strong design combine to create another winner for Thurlby—and readers. (Picture book. 5-9)