From the Matching Game Book series

The game element doesn’t fly, but the art and interactive panels will attract toddler interest.

Peek through sliding panels to discover all manner of insects and small creatures.

Though the “critters’’ might be little, this is one hefty board book! While the series of eight sliding panels clustered on the recto of each spread makes the book’s solid cardboard construction essential, they also make it unwieldy. The back-cover proclamation that this a “great take-along travel activity” notwithstanding, this is not a book caregivers will toss in a diaper bag. Opening the book, readers find a vibrant landscape on the verso of each spread, with five distinct habitats including watery pond, cheery meadow, and eye-catching nocturnal scene. Clearly labelled bugs and creatures mill about, with a satisfying mix of common (ladybugs) and uncommon (weevils) bug and animal species. Opposite the scene, eight smoothly moving panels hide four matching pairs. Though there are general suggestions of games to play with the panels written in itty-bitty text, the list of ideas (match the animals, locate them on the scene, hide the critters, and play I spy) feels half-hearted and repetitive at best. Better are the cartoon illustrations that make spiders, bats, and mosquitoes look as friendly as these creatures can, with large eyes and unobtrusive smiles. Intense, almost garish primary colors are forcefully cheerful.

The game element doesn’t fly, but the art and interactive panels will attract toddler interest. (Novelty/board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-2-40802-465-9

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021




A riff on the familiar lullaby depicts various animal parents, and then a human father, soothing their sleepy little ones.

An opening spread includes the traditional first verse of the titular lullaby, but instead of depicting a human baby in a treetop cradle, the accompanying illustration shows a large tree as habitat to the animals that are highlighted on subsequent pages. First the perspective zooms in on a painterly illustration rendered in acrylics of a mother squirrel cuddling her baby with text reading “Rock-a-bye Squirrel, / high in the tree, / in Mommy’s arms, / cozy as can be.” In this spread and others the cadence doesn’t quite fit with the familiar tune, and repeated verses featuring different animals—all opening with the “Rock-a-bye” line—don’t give way to the resolution. No winds blow, no boughs break, and the repetitive forced rhythm of the verse could cause stumbles when attempting a read-aloud. The final image of a human father and baby, whose skin tone and hair texture suggest that they are perhaps of South Asian descent, provides pleasing visual resolution in a book with art that outshines text.

Ho-hum. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3753-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017


Handsome but so sneaky as to be frustrating.

Youngsters are invited to find the object or creature that doesn’t fit in with a similar grouping of animals.

In arrays spread out on (mostly) double-page spreads, a rocking horse hides among a drove of real horses, a cat sits with a variety of breeds of dogs, and so on. The project is wordless except for the introductory text that introduces the game with echoes of Sesame Street: “One of these things is almost like the others….” Some of the groupings are quite clever: a straight belt is placed amid a row of curvy snakes, a mechanical crane is perched between a living crane and two other long-legged birds, and the sole human figure, who looks to be a shirtless white male, is the only being to walk on two legs in a primate troop. To assist guessers, the final double-page spread shows all the outliers from the subsequent groupings. Using only yellow, purple, and a deep and dusky brown that is created when these two shades are mixed, Contraire uses stencils to create his figures against a creamy white background. While many of the animals and objects are instantly recognizable, the contrast of the mostly yellow critters against white backgrounds makes identification tricky for the board-book set. And while the book design is handsome, the lack of color variation in the art gives the offering a one-note feel.

Handsome but so sneaky as to be frustrating. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7422-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

Close Quickview