HERO VS. VILLAIN

A BOOK OF OPPOSITES

Positive, engaging, and, most of all, fun; an outstanding introduction to derring-do.

Eye-popping adventure served up with lessons in opposites and conflict resolution.

This colorful, sturdy board book delivers a simple yet surprisingly satisfying narrative via minimal but powerful text and dynamic comic-book graphics. Riffing on the eternal, archetypal struggle of good versus evil, author Fuller presents a series of paired opposite words or phrases in a sequence that suggests an uncomplicated but exciting storyline, complete with surprise denouement. The titular hero is a powerful, confident girl of color garbed in the obligatory heroic mask and cape; her opponent is a wild crocodilian creature with long jaws, big teeth, a large, popping eyeball, and a diabolical-looking top hat. The narrative is advanced in two-page set pieces, usually with opposing ideas on facing pages: “hero / villain // smile / frown // up in the air / down in the lair,” and so on. Artist Meyer’s wildly bright colors and strong, playful images lend thrills and narrative continuity to the storyline. In panels in which the villain is looking most villainous, his nemesis is usually rendered slightly larger and more at ease and in control, which keeps things exciting but never frightening. When the hero’s constructive labors are wrecked (“build / destroy”), each blames the other (“truth / lie”), but the conciliatory powers of a well-timed cupcake turn enemies into friends.

Positive, engaging, and, most of all, fun; an outstanding introduction to derring-do. (Board book. 18 mos-4)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2825-9

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

ANIMAL SHAPES

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

Close Quickview