How many ways can you ask someone what’s happening? Uncle Mo (The Valentine’s Day Train, 2014) comes up with several alternate, rhyming ways to broach the question in this silly picture book of puns.
“What’s the Laugh Giraffe?” both the text and the title ask a giggling giraffe. According to the illustration, the creature is rendered helpless by the hilarious joke of a hyena comedian. Next, a toddler drops his treat, and the text asks, “What’s the cry cutie pie?” Seven unique ways of asking about someone’s day feature various animals and objects (a pepper grinder causes a large wedge of cheese to sneeze; a tooth-brushing crocodile brandishes his pearly whites at a mirror). After the final question, in which a sheep is counting sheep in his dreams, several rhyming words are paired in black-and-white sketches. A rock climber illustrates the difference between “steep” and “deep.” Clothing is a “pile” on a “tile” floor. The divide in structure is abrupt, and readers may feel almost as though Uncle Mo ran out of ways to turn his rhymes into questions. The rhymes themselves are clever but not so odd that young readers will find them confusing. The number of words per page should make this a confidence-building book for beginning readers, although the inclusion of some tougher phonetic words (calf/half) may create a challenge. The production value is underwhelming. The line work appears sketchy rather than finalized, so though the illustrations are well-drawn, they look unfinished. Despite those flaws, preschools and kindergarten classrooms looking to expand rhyming word sections may find Uncle Mo’s selections useful for discussions. The seven greetings included in the book make a great starting exercise for children to design their own rhyming introductions following the same structure.
A slim little book of clever rhymes and visual puns with an unfinished production quality and abrupt divide between phrases and rhyming pairs.