Animal Babies by Charles Fuge (9781633225480)
Told in rollicking rhyme, this picture book is filled with charm. Each of the illustrations has bright-eyed baby animals who are captivating as the pages turn. There are ducklings all in a line following a baby chimpanzee. A baby elephant holds onto the little horn of a baby rhino. The story moves through different habitats, visiting arctic and desert climates. Through it all, the rhyming keeps the story focused and tight and the illustrations add real appeal. The young animals are often shown with parents caring for them, like the joey in his mother’s pouch and sloths and bats hanging upside down with their respective parent. The book ends with a heap of snoozing animals, so this would also make a great bedtime story. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from e-galley provided by MoonDance Press and Edelweiss.)
Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel (9781452150147)
The author of the Caldecott Honor Book, They All Saw a Cat, returns with a new book about animals.The book moves from black-and-white animals to colorful ones, each animal at the end of one page skillfully leading into the next, visually tying the categories together. The book is a visual treat; the animals are large and graphic. The text reads like poetry, easing from one concept to the next, the animals demonstrating that concept. Towards the end of the book, the experience is more fluid and friendly, the animals similar in certain aspects though the text stops pointing it out. This is a great book to invite discussion and more exploration of how the animals are similar and different.
The text is simple and the art has goggle-eyed animals that are approachable and that celebrate the animals they depict. The book ends by explaining that many of the animals shown are endangered and then offers a list of the animals so that children can explore more about them. Inviting, fresh and friendly, this picture book is exceptional thanks to its art. Appropriate for ages 2-5. (Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.)
The Truth about Hippos by Maxwell Eaton III (9781626726673)
Eaton turns his signature humor on hippopotamuses this time. He shares information on the two kinds of hippos: common and pygmy. Little signs along the way add more facts and much of the humor is in the commentary made in speech bubbles by the various characters. Eaton adds a little drama with a lost baby pygmy hippo looking for his mother. The illustrations are bold and bright, inviting readers in to explore the world of hippos and stay thanks to the humor and light tone of the book. Filled with information that is easily understood by children, such as using a book as the example of how wide a hippo’s mouth opens compared to a human’s. The book is intelligent and wittily crafted, making it just the right book for young children to learn about an animal. Appropriate for ages 5-8. (Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.)
Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green (InfoSoup)
The zoo where Hippo lives is run down and doesn’t get many visitors at all. His friend Red Panda suggests that Hippo join him in the human world and get a job. The two of them put on hard hats and try their hands at construction. Hippo discovers that he is quite good at building, but he doesn’t build the expected skyscraper. The two then try being hair dressers with similar results, though Hippo does find that he’s quite good at it. They put on chef hats and work in a restaurant kitchen where Hippo creates a pasta masterpiece and Red Panda creates a mess. They go on to try being bankers and dentists and many other jobs until they head back to the zoo on one of their day’s off. Hippo decides to returns to the zoo and discovers that he may just have the exact skills needed to help the zoo return in style.
Green’s dismal zoo with limp animals quickly turns into an active story about different jobs, wild and wonderful ways to screw them up, visual gags, and plenty of laughs. The ending of the book is entirely satisfying, even as readers realize where it is headed. It is a pleasure to watch it play out visually and see Hippo come into his own with his myriad of skills.
The illustrations in this graphic novel are welcoming and fun. Filled with bright colors and plenty of action, they have a wonderful feel to them. Especially effective are the images done in series with Red Panda and then Hippo trying hat after hat and job after job. The entire book is filled with a jolly humor.
Funny and lighthearted, this book also has a cheerful depth to it which is immensely satisfying. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
Hippopposites by Janik Coat
This clever board book takes a hippo and runs through a variety of opposite pairs with him. There are light and dark hippos, dotted and striped hippos, soft and rough hippos, small and large hippos. Then there are the more intriguing opposites like opaque and transparent, positive and negative, clear and blurry. My favorite opposite pairing is the front and side, which made me laugh out loud with surprise. Something that rarely happens with board books! This is truly a modern, hip board book that will be enjoyed not only by young children but also their parents.
Coat makes this book dynamic and modern with her very solid graphic skills. She has a wonderful quirky sense of humor that is on display throughout the book and that combined with the strength of the simple illustrations makes this book a winner. I also like the limited color palette and the simplicity of the page design, which will work particularly well with infants.
Have a cool friend expecting a baby? This book would make an ideal gift. It will also be a great addition to the myriad of pastel board books on library shelves. Appropriate for ages birth-2.
Reviewed from copy received from Abrams Appleseed.
Tiny Little Fly by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Kevin Waldron
British Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen has created another delight of a picture book. Readers follow the adventures of Tiny Little Fly as he buzzes past some impressive animals. Great Big Elephant tries to catch the fly, but even with all of his tramping and crushing, the fly flies away. When Tiny Little Fly lands on Great Big Hippo’s ear, the hippo tries to catch him by rolling and squashing. But the fly flies away. Even Great Big Tiger, who swoops and snatches at the fly with his pay cannot catch the fly. Told in a wonderful rhyme with plenty of noise and fun, this book will be right at home in any toddler story time.
Rosen’s verse here is filled with a sense of fun and playfulness. The repetition in the book gives it a wonderful pace and gait that is a pleasure to read aloud. Each large animal takes two winks at the fly, then tries in their own way to catch it with plenty of ruckus. Thanks to the simplicity of the story and the attraction of the large animals, I can see this being made into a felt board story very easily. It would also convert well into a little play acting with parents or teachers.
Waldron’s illustrations are simple but sophisticated. They have a mix of timelessness and modernism that is charming. His use of a natural-feeling background rather than stark white makes for a warm feel throughout the book. Waldron combines several techniques in these illustrations from ink drawings to paint. For reading aloud to a group, Waldron’s illustrations work well thanks to their large size. Additionally, he allows children to guess what the next large animal will be, adding to the pleasure of sharing the book aloud.
An ideal story time pick, get this one for any insect, tiger, elephant or hippo story time you are planning. Heck, it’s good enough to use time and again for any reason at all. A guaranteed hit with the toddler and preschool set. Appropriate for ages 2-5.
Reviewed from library copy.