Winsome animals greet each other from across the gutter in this Japanese import.
Two creatures meander about on opposite sides of a double-page spread until a page turn joins them at the gutter, suddenly bringing two monkeys’ hands together and two goldfish face to face. Even readers who might normally gloss over book design will notice and appreciate the fresh way Miura has used the book’s layout to connect the friends. Circle-headed humans join the mix on the final three spreads, with a beguiling child cuddling cheek to cheek with Mommy before Daddy also appears at the lovefest on the following spread. (These humans have pale skin and brown hair.) All the most elemental features are exaggerated on the flat, cartoonlike representations, all sitting on minimally detailed backgrounds that draw the eye to the duos. White ducks silhouetted against rich blue have enormous golden bills, pointy little tails, and vague lines that suggest wings. Unfortunately, while it works visually, it fails textually. Each pair has an original salutation to share with each other, but the resulting statements are so clunky that it’s a struggle to read aloud: “Fish swim HELLO! / …by touching noses.” Also problematic is the confusion about which animal greetings are fabricated and which are real. Some are accurate, such as the elephants that shake trunks, but ducks do not “quack HI! / …by tapping beaks.”
Although this pretty book holds a sweet sentiment, it’s not substantial enough to satisfy. (Board book. 1-3)