Like Hervé Tullet’s The Game of Finger Worms (2011), Gomi’s newest encourages readers to insert a finger through a die-cut hole to animate the characters on the page.
Readers’ digits become a cat’s tail, a rattlesnake’s rattle, a chameleon’s tongue and more in the Japanese illustrator’s recognizably whimsical watercolor cartoons, done in colors both bright and muted. Some of the finger animations work well, like the sea gull wing and the elephant trunk, but others look odd or incomplete, such as the penguin beak and the deer antlers. The text is a simple one-sentence explanation of the animal’s actions: “The crocodile flashes his fang.” The die-cut holes appear on both the left and right sides of the double-page spread, but only one hole is needed to create the animation effect, making the page layout look unfinished. Companion Hide and Seek is another example of Gomi’s visual playfulness. An ever-increasing number of animals and people hide an object or two on their person. On the first double-page spread, two roosters are shown, as the text, with the image of a glove hovering above, reads: “Which rooster hides a glove?” One of the birds has had its comb replaced by the glove. The guessing game continues with three crocodiles, one of which has a toothbrush for teeth, and four raccoons, one of which has a sock instead of a tail. Many of these visual puzzles are delightful, such as birthday candles in place of giraffe horns. Others may be difficult for board-book readers to pick up on, such as a triangular flag in place of a shark’s fin. The final spread shows a group of kids, one of which sports a fork and spoon as hair braids.
While Gomi is often visually sophisticated, the results here are uneven, with images that will both delight and baffle. (Board book. 2-4)