Busy art featuring cartoonish stuffed animals introduces young children to typical preschool activities in whimsical Noah's Park, a sort of combination theme park and preschool.
The flow of the rhyming text is sacrificed to heavy-handed attempts at fun. “All aboard! Can’t wait to start. / Chugga Chuff, Chugga Chuff… / It’s time to make art,” reads the text as a train carries these tots to the titular art barn. On subsequent pages, Williams rhymes “smocks” with “drops” and “shapes” with “make.” Incredibly, without any adult supervision, these toddlers remember to don paint smocks and succeed in painting pictures of the train. A most important part of the preschool experience, the guidance of a loving, supportive teacher, is entirely missing. Instead these toddler surrogates function independently and cooperatively, well beyond their developmental ages. Ending nearly every other sentence with an exclamation point and repeated use of the word “hooray” are not enough to make Noah's Park exciting. Jungle Gym (published simultaneously) follows the same formula, even repeating the opening text. A single gatefold on the second page that opens to reveal the destination of the troupe in each book scuttles any element of surprise. Snack Time (available in September) promises more of the same.
Substitute any of the more realistic and genuinely engaging introductions to preschool routines that are available. (Board book. 2-4)