Peanut Bear, Cowbunny Bo, and Owlivia live and cavort in the magical forest of Yippity Yay.
Many of these critters are a mashup of two things: bear plus peanut (which gives the titular character the look of a Weeble), corn-on-the-cob plus unicorn (Unicorny), whale plus squirrel (Sqwhale), and more. (Cowbunny Bo appears to be just a rabbit in a 10-gallon hat, however, and Owlivia simply an owl with ridiculously long legs.) These friends tell one another jokes, frolic among the trees, and splash around in the lakes and ponds. At the end of their meanderings, Peanut Bear enjoys a “forest meal” with his family, all of whom are also peanut-shaped, in their home that resembles a sideways peanut. Cosentino’s art, a radical departure from his bestselling superhero picture books, is playful and engaging, executed in gentle pastels and with a crayonlike line quality. However his character mashups are better suited to children older than the board-book crowd; it’s preschoolers who will have learned to identity these animals and can better appreciate the wordplay. The story is largely forgettable, exposition joining speech bubbles to pepper the pages with dry, unfocused narration.
Here’s hoping this whimsical cast of characters finds a story worthy of their talents. (Board book. 2-4)