While it suffers from redundancy of form, the gamelike structure makes this book a nifty choice for engaging young readers...

ANIMALS

From the Matching Game series

In this game-based book, readers play matching and look-and-find games featuring animals in various habitats.

This book version of the traditional matching game involving playing cards invites readers to find animal pairs, play I Spy, and seek-and-find. Every two-page spread features animals that live in the same habitat: forest, savanna, ocean, polar ice, and field. The left side of each layout features Mercier’s cartoon-cute illustrations of the animals, while the right side shows some of those same animals hidden behind sliding squares. These squares are an unusual inclusion in a board book and provide great motor-skill practice for little readers. Each habitat includes four activity prompts. While “Find a Pair” and “Look and Find” are nearly identical throughout, “Time to Hide” and “I Spy” are tailored to the specific featured animals. The “I Spy” questions do engage readers’ thinking around such concepts as aboveground/underground and colors; however, as a set, the prompts are formulaic and predictable. On the up side, featured animals include the familiar (elephant, squirrel, butterfly) alongside those that may be new to readers (musk ox, moray eel, pangolin), and the structure of the book allows readers to explore and utilize it in ways beyond the obvious.

While it suffers from redundancy of form, the gamelike structure makes this book a nifty choice for engaging young readers during travel or at a restaurant. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-74599-548-3

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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ROCK-A-BYE BABY

A riff on the familiar lullaby depicts various animal parents, and then a human father, soothing their sleepy little ones.

An opening spread includes the traditional first verse of the titular lullaby, but instead of depicting a human baby in a treetop cradle, the accompanying illustration shows a large tree as habitat to the animals that are highlighted on subsequent pages. First the perspective zooms in on a painterly illustration rendered in acrylics of a mother squirrel cuddling her baby with text reading “Rock-a-bye Squirrel, / high in the tree, / in Mommy’s arms, / cozy as can be.” In this spread and others the cadence doesn’t quite fit with the familiar tune, and repeated verses featuring different animals—all opening with the “Rock-a-bye” line—don’t give way to the resolution. No winds blow, no boughs break, and the repetitive forced rhythm of the verse could cause stumbles when attempting a read-aloud. The final image of a human father and baby, whose skin tone and hair texture suggest that they are perhaps of South Asian descent, provides pleasing visual resolution in a book with art that outshines text.

Ho-hum. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3753-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.

SHARKS

From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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