A colorful, off-kilter barnyard party.

ONE SHEEP, BLUE SHEEP

A farmer's clumsiness leads to a color explosion.

"[W]hen the farmer spill[s] paint on [one sheep's] head—" chaos ensues. These sheep receive one outrageous dye job after another as paint cans splatter on their heads. Though the first makeovers are sheer accident, they enjoy their stylish wooly dos. The sheep's faces express their zany personalities with a tilt of their heads and a flip of their floppy ears. With such a slight plot there's not a lot of opportunity for character development, but they do have a lot of fun. The text is not as strong, with meter galloping unevenly from rhyme to rhyme. A lighthearted twist distinguishes the end. “The farmer laughed to see such sport. / He knew just what to do. / He sheared those five silly sheep and said, / Thanks for the scarf, you colorful crew!” Die-cut circles with scalloped edges provide peepholes but seem additional rather than intrinsic to the composition as a whole. Complementing the flock's shenanigans, the farmer toils comically in each digital spread, adding extra visual interest for readers.

A colorful, off-kilter barnyard party. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-40284-2

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary.

MY FIRST BUSY BOOK

From the World of Eric Carle series

The latest addition to the World of Eric Carle is proof that the Wilder Award–winning picture-book creator knows what appeals to children.

This board book is both developmentally appropriate and aesthetically pleasing—perfect for toddlers. In a sturdy, oversize (10 1/2 inches square) format, Carle recycles iconic images from his vast canon to introduce shapes, colors, numbers, animals, and sounds. The flower on the cover is almost (but not quite) identical to the flower that grows from The Tiny Seed (1970). Seeing the animals throughout the pages is like recognizing old friends. But Carle and the book’s designer, Hannah Frece, put these familiar images to fresh uses to create a logical, accessible, and harmonious concept book. Although billed as a “busy book,” it is not hyperactive, using just five or six images per spread. From the mirror that lights up the sun on the cover to the touch-and-feel inserts on the page about animals to the single flap that hides a mouse from a cat, the tactile elements have been chosen with intention instead of just as gimmicks. On other pages, foils and textures are subtle, with many barely raised images that invite tracing.

A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5791-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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