Gordon and Tapir by Sebastian Meschenmoser (InfoSoup)
Gordon is a very tidy penguin who lives with a very untidy tapir. The two of them simply can’t get along together. Tapir takes all of the toilet paper to make a hammock in his room and a hat to go with it. He doesn’t do the dishes and the living room has started to look like a jungle. Tapir has complaints about Gordon too. Gordon is too orderly and won’t let Tapir join his club of penguins. Finally Gordon has had enough, particularly when Tapir’s friend moves in and lives in the bathroom. So Gordon moves out. Tapir misses him dreadfully, but Gordon soon reaches out and the two discover that sometimes friendships work best when you don’t share the same space.
Shortlisted for the German Children’s Book of the Year, this picture book is entirely delightful. A large part of that comes from the skillful mix of anthropomorphic animals but also keeping them very realistic as well. These are real-feeling animals who just happen to have couches, dishes and bathrooms. The art is beautifully and detailed, allowing the text to fade into the background for much of the book. My favorite pages are actually free of text as the two of them struggle to make living together work.
The use of the odd-couple dynamics in the book doesn’t feel stale at all and is further freshened by the unique animals chosen as the protagonists. Young readers will want to discover more about Tapirs even if they are slovenly. The book has a lovely story arc that gives a satisfying ending to the book, one that young readers will appreciate as they navigate their own friendships whether they are the tidy or messy one.
A clever look at friendships that gives new life to an old trope. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Tiptoe Tapirs by Hanmin Kim (InfoSoup)
The jungle was a very noisy place with all of the animals making the most noise they can. The elephants went BOOM, the rhinos went BAM-BAM, the hornbill went CAW, and the ape went HOO-HAA-HOO-HAA! But there was one animal that wasn’t noisy at all, Tapir and Little Tapir. They were very quiet, tiptoeing through the jungle silently. When Little Tapir wanted to go to the Great Puddle for her third birthday, the two tapirs moved silently to get there and then enjoyed the lovely mud. Then out of the blue, a leopard attacked the tapirs. The leopard ran after them with loud THUDDING steps while the tapirs ran silently. The tapirs were almost eaten by the leopard when a gun shot rang out. The leopard was terrified, but the kind tapirs had a solution to save them all.
Kim has woven a fable-like story around his love for tapirs. The book is a delight to read aloud from the loud noises of the other animals to the hush-hush of the tapirs and their quiet silence. It’s a wonderful contrast that is great fun to act out. Kim uses repetition and solid writing to create a traditional feel in this story. There is also a lot of humor throughout, the noises are wild, the mud cakes are fresh. The focus on kindness as the solution in the end is also a treat of its own.
The art also has a dynamic mix of traditional and modern feel. Done in watercolor, ink and marker, the illustrations are filled with organic shapes of leaves and trees. Colors range from bright washes of watercolor to the darkest black of ink. The shapes of the animals themselves are delicately done, particularly the tapirs who both hide in the jungle settings and dance on the page.
Whether you are sharing this with a loud or quiet little animal, this book is a great pick to share aloud. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from ARC received from Holiday House.