While it suffers from redundancy of form, the gamelike structure makes this book a nifty choice for engaging young readers...

READ REVIEW

ANIMALS

From the Matching Game series

In this game-based book, readers play matching and look-and-find games featuring animals in various habitats.

This book version of the traditional matching game involving playing cards invites readers to find animal pairs, play I Spy, and seek-and-find. Every two-page spread features animals that live in the same habitat: forest, savanna, ocean, polar ice, and field. The left side of each layout features Mercier’s cartoon-cute illustrations of the animals, while the right side shows some of those same animals hidden behind sliding squares. These squares are an unusual inclusion in a board book and provide great motor-skill practice for little readers. Each habitat includes four activity prompts. While “Find a Pair” and “Look and Find” are nearly identical throughout, “Time to Hide” and “I Spy” are tailored to the specific featured animals. The “I Spy” questions do engage readers’ thinking around such concepts as aboveground/underground and colors; however, as a set, the prompts are formulaic and predictable. On the up side, featured animals include the familiar (elephant, squirrel, butterfly) alongside those that may be new to readers (musk ox, moray eel, pangolin), and the structure of the book allows readers to explore and utilize it in ways beyond the obvious.

While it suffers from redundancy of form, the gamelike structure makes this book a nifty choice for engaging young readers during travel or at a restaurant. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-74599-548-3

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.

SHARKS

From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Attractive but disappointing.

WILD ANIMAL SOUNDS

From the Little Kids First Board Books series

National Geographic brings its gorgeous, accurate wildlife photography to toddlers.

One double-page spread is devoted to each of 10 animals (some may feel that calling chipmunks, frogs, and ducks “wild” is stretching it a bit). The animals hail from all over the map—from an elephant and a zebra to a black bear and a wolf. The sound each creature makes begins the text, followed by a sentence speculating what the animal might be communicating. Six of the spreads highlight an additional animal fact in a bright yellow circle. White thought bubbles on seven spreads that attempt to inject humor are less successful. For example, in response to the wolf’s howl, the wolf pups think, “Should we answer?” Similarly, on a different spread, the primary text reads, “Roar! Time for dinner, the mother tiger calls.” The tiger cub wonders in response, “What’s the catch of the day?” The typical board-book audience of babies and toddlers will not get the jokes, and preschoolers are ready for more-substantial books. The needless anthropomorphization detracts from what could be simple, useful nonfiction. The final spread reprises six of the animals in a guessing game to “Match the animals with the sounds they make.” Ocean, published simultaneously, is similarly formatted (and flawed), but all the creatures featured share the ocean habitat.

Attractive but disappointing. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3466-5

Page Count: 26

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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