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From the I Like To Read series

Likely a bit more turquoise and abstract than Aesop had in mind, but fantastic visual fun.

Aesop’s lion and mouse (or mice, as this case has it) have never looked more stylish.

With his massive frame stretched across the page, a wacky-hued lion sleeps. But when a tiny mouse, resplendent in olive-green heels and a tuft of electric-blue fur, finds herself next to the lion, he wakes up. The wry narrator intones (and readers will agree): “Uh-oh.” But true to the fable, the lion lets the mouse go, with the mouse squeaking in reply, “One day I will help you.” (Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the gray bars, which were previously melded into the background design, are now also found in front of the lion). The mouse returns, with the help of many fashion-forward rodent friends, and fits a key into a never-before-seen padlock. The lion is free—presumably from a zoo—and the mice are happy. As an added bonus after the moral is delivered, the lion says “thank you.” Two lessons in one! The story not quite as haut-couture as its art, with chopped sentences and direct exposition that serve its intended audience of beginning readers well, if not elegantly. But the illustrations round everything out, giving context clues and a shift in perspective, zooming back to reveal the complete picture.

Likely a bit more turquoise and abstract than Aesop had in mind, but fantastic visual fun. (Early reader/folktale. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2357-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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

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 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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