It’s an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall
Five little ants are woken up by the sound of rain outside their tree stump. In order to figure out what is making the noise, they drill holes in the stump to look outside. One ant explains that aardvarks are gray and sneaky, and of course hungry for ants! But when they drill the first hole, they see orange not gray. Perhaps it’s an orange aardvark come to eat them! They drill another hole and that one shows blue, so they think it’s an orange aardvark wearing blue pajamas. As they drill more holes, more colors are shown and their story about the orange aardvark gets more and more elaborate. Savvy young readers will know what all of these colors mean, but the pleasure of this book is seeing just how silly the little ants become.
Hall is the author of My Heart Is Like a Zoo and continues to display his skill with bright colors, large formats and die cuts in this new title. The mix of surprise, guessing and silliness makes this book great fun to read. Add in identifying different colors and the book becomes almost a game to read aloud. Even better, there is wonderful suspense with each page turn as the ants come up with their next spectacular speculation.
Done in large format and pops of bright colors, the illustrations have the same appeal as Lois Ehlert and Eric Carle with their sharp edges and cut paper format. The die cuts are used just enough to make the book more suspenseful and fun. They also all line up, consistent throughout the book.
A jolly picture book that is full of fun, this is a colorful and witty way to learn about colors and aardvarks. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.
The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc
One day a lion discovers a hurt bird in his garden. He bandages the bird’s damaged wing, but then the rest of the bird’s flock flies away, migrating for the winter. So the lion takes the bird into his home. Throughout the winter, the bird and the lion spend each day together doing all sorts of things. And the lion notices that the winter doesn’t seem as cold with a friend along with him. Then spring arrives and the bird’s wing has mended, so the bird heads off to join its flock as they return for the warm weather. Lion is once again alone and now he misses his friend. Lion spends all summer alone, tending his garden. Then autumn comes again and Lion hopes to see his friend return, but will he?
Dubuc is a Canadian author who is internationally known. She has a decidedly European vibe to her work with its quietness and the message of larger things written in the small world she creates on the page. She cleverly shows the passing of the seasons using pages of white that allow space for the time to pass for the reader. The book is also a lovely riff on The Lion and the Mouse, except in this book the lion is the one doing the kindness for another creature and the payback of the kindness is more delicate in the form of friendship.
Dubuc’s art is exceptional. Her fine lines show both close-ups of the friends together and also vistas of the world they live in. There is a feeling of smallness, closeness and a limited world that Lion lives in. That contrasts with the bird leaving on migration and exiting this close world.
A noteworthy picture book, this new title by Dubuc is charming and warm. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.