A sonorous, effectively soporific snoozer.

ON SLEEPY HILL

Visible through overlapping cutouts, animal residents get set to bed down for the night.

If the sleepy cadences of Hegarty’s rhyme aren’t quite enough to make a onesie-clad audience nod off, the subtle darkening of each woodland scene as pages turn should do the trick. “Sitting by a mountain stream, / here is big black bear, / watching as his baby cubs / play in the cool night air.” (The text may be stronger on atmosphere than on zoology.) Using trees and canopy as a sort of natural proscenium, Le packs the space around the large, naturalistically shaped central cutouts with mostly European flora and fauna. Viewers can pick out families of rabbits, wolves, otters, wild boars, caribou, and others gathering themselves to head toward (mostly offstage) homes, as well as lots of small individual creatures peeking through leaves, flowers, and, here and there, tiny additional cutout windows. The spreads are printed on heavy paper, which makes them at least somewhat resistant to tearing, but the book is nevertheless best shared with the younger end of the audience when they are at their calmest. Eyelids should be drifting down even before the closing “Sweet dreams. Good night” beneath cushiony, moonlit clouds.

A sonorous, effectively soporific snoozer. (Novelty picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18176-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

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 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver.

EEK! HALLOWEEN!

The farmyard's chickens experience Halloween.

A round, full moon shines in the sky, and the chickens of Boynton's barnyard are feeling “nervous.” Pumpkins shine “with flickering eyes,” witches and wizards wander the pastures, and one chicken has seen “a mouse of enormous size.” It’s Halloween night, and readers will delight as the chickens huddle together and try to figure out what's going on. All ends well, of course, and in Boynton's trademark silly style. (It’s really quite remarkable how her ranks of white, yellow-beaked chickens evoke rows of candy corn.) At this point parents and children know what they're in for when they pick up a book by the prolific author, and she doesn't disappoint here. The chickens are silly, the pigs are cute, and the coloring and illustrations evoke a warmth that little ones wary of Halloween will appreciate. For children leery of the ghouls and goblins lurking in the holiday's iconography, this is a perfect antidote, emphasizing all the fun Halloween has to offer.

An excellent, rounded effort from a creator who knows how to deliver. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-9300-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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