Sophisticated design and extra-thick pages invite handling of this entry in Deneux's TouchThinkLearn series.
The cover—a cheery yellow duck recessed in a pure white egg-shaped cutout—says, please touch! Each subsequent spread features a raised die-cut animal that fits neatly into the recessed shape on the right with details of that animal's habitat or behavior. The frog on verso fits into the lily pad–shaped cutout on recto, for instance. The cutouts in Homes, published simultaneously, mirror the raised images exactly, while in Baby Animals, the animal figures are typically smaller than the shapes on the opposite page. The name of each baby animal—tadpoles, a joey, chicks, cubs, puppies, and kitten—is set in large, boldface type, while more words associated with that animal are in smaller print, starting with the word for the adult animal and followed by words that describe its habitat and important characteristics. Finally, actions typical of the animal are in italics. Young children might be confused that both the turtle and crocodile are called hatchlings, but that is the appropriate scientific term. And yes, mother crocodiles really do carry their babies in their mouths, as depicted. Generous white space, tactile design, and rich vocabulary make this and its companion good conversation starters for babies in the one-word stage of language acquisition, and the addition of verbs extends their usefulness to toddlers beginning to form two-word sentences.
Classy, beautiful, and developmentally appropriate—a winner. (Board book. 9 mos.-2)