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


From the Matching Game Book series

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 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Definitely not household or neighborhood noises…except for the lion, perhaps.


Sound-clip enhanced introductions to cries and calls of a dozen creatures native to central and southern Africa.

The animals are relatively common and a mix of familiar (at least in type) and less high profile, including the African elephant, the hippo, the cheetah, the black-backed jackal, the pearl-spotted owl, and the chacma baboon. Each gets a large individual close-up portrait photo that has been digitally placed into a natural landscape opposite notes on habitat, average size, and other basic facts, plus descriptions of vocalizations—some of which can be heard by pressing the appropriate touch-sensitive area on a plastic panel attached to the edge. Young armchair travelers whose only contact with wild animals is in zoos may be in for an ear-opening experience. Though the lion sounds like some guy gargling and the elephant’s trumpeting as if it were recorded indoors from another room, several of the generally sharp, loud recordings take surprising turns, from a zebra’s astonishing cascade of birdlike trills and a cheetah who sounds for all the world like a yappy dog to the gray go-away bird, which really does seem to be grumbling “go’way, go’way.” Children uninterested in the zoological detail can still enjoy creating a cacophony by pressing the buttons, and vice versa. Batteries are replaceable and come with a printed warning not to eat them.

Definitely not household or neighborhood noises…except for the lion, perhaps. (Informational novelty. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-2281-0251-9

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A serviceable exploration of the animal kingdom.


Little ones learn about sea life.

Animals found under the sea are the focus of this board book. An abcb rhyme scheme is employed to tell little readers about sea turtles, great white sharks (which smile benevolently if toothily), seals, blue whales, and sea horses. Each animal is discussed in two double-page spreads that offer basic facts: sea turtles lay their eggs on beaches; great whites are white only on their bellies; blue whales eat “tiny creatures.” Some facts are impenetrable and even inaccurate: of the seal, the text claims a “deep-sea diving suit of blubber keeps this swimmer dry”; the blue whale is as “big as any jumbo jet.” The illustrations feature smiling animals colored with deep hues that evoke the depths of their environment. The final page of the board book boasts further facts about each creature featured. Similar titles Forest Folk and Sky Guys are concurrently published, introducing little readers to forest critters and winged beasts respectively, using the same abcb format and design. While the graphics in each are appealing, the texts leave much to be desired.

A serviceable exploration of the animal kingdom. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-908985-86-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Button Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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