Mildly humorous, attractively illustrated, but too slight to be of significant value.

BAT WINGS! CAT WINGS?

Why do animals have the physical attributes they have—and not others?

Everyone knows that a moose has antlers, but a goose does not. It’s the same with the rest of Gehl’s rhyming animal pairs: Clams have shells, but lambs don’t; an eagle has a beak, but a beagle doesn’t; bats have wings, but cats don’t; a hog has a snout, but a frog doesn’t; a grouse has feathers, but a mouse does not. The final set breaks the pattern: A kangaroo has a pouch, but you and I don’t…except “maybe sometimes.” The turn of the page reveals a baby sweetly tucked inside their parent’s cozy sweater-cum-pouch (both present White). The text is terse and patterned: “Moose antlers? Yes! / Goose antlers? No!” Each pair is positioned on a double-page spread, the silly one always appearing on recto. The animals are done in what looks like watercolors and pastels, realistic except for the absurd appurtenances on the second animal in each pair. The artwork belies the reductivism of the concept. Several of these animals will not be familiar to very young children, and they are unlikely to understand the weirdness of showing antlers on a goose’s back instead of wings, or the lamb’s shell ears. Aside from a response of wonder or incredulity—and the thrill of yelling No at the book—it is hard to imagine what a child would glean from reading this or how a caregiver would attempt to meaningfully explain the concept.

Mildly humorous, attractively illustrated, but too slight to be of significant value. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-56846-374-2

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Charming Easter fun.

PETER EASTER FROG

You may know the Easter Bunny, but get ready to meet Peter Easter Frog!

Peter loves Easter, and he’s not going to let the fact that he’s a frog and not a bunny stop him, especially when he’s so good at hopping! He looks absolutely delighted to be hopping around delivering Easter eggs. As he hops along, so does a repeated refrain, which always begins with two words ending with “-ity” coupled with “Easter’s on its—” (“Squishity, squashity, Easter’s on its—”; “Yippity, yappity, Easter’s on its—”); each page turn playfully upends the expected conclusion of the line. Karas’ cheery art portrays a growing array of animals: a turtle decked out in lipstick and a spiffy Easter bonnet, a cow with flower choker necklace, and a sheepdog and a chipmunk sans finery. As Peter gives out colorful, patterned Easter eggs to the other animals, they are, at first, shocked to see an Easter frog but soon join him in his charitable mission to spread Easter cheer. The moment when the cow responds to the dog’s challenge that she is not a cow-bunny by pointing out its own breed as a “sheepdog” may elicit laughs, especially from adult readers. When the group finally meets the real Easter Bunny—hilariously, at the end of a dark tunnel—it seems that things may go awry, but all ends hoppily, happily, and inclusively. The text does not use dialogue tags, instead setting narration and dialogue in separate, distinctive typefaces; unfortunately, this design is not consistently applied, which may confuse readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 26.8% of actual size.)

Charming Easter fun. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6489-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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The flat ending is disappointing for a group of characters who could have exhibited a rousing rhythmic finale.

LOST AND FOUND, WHAT'S THAT SOUND?

Just before showtime, the animals in the band must search for their instruments in the lost and found by their identifying sounds.

A mouse happily claims the trumpet after a congenial-looking rabbit clerk produces a bicycle horn, trumpet, and toy train in response to a request for an instrument that makes a “Toot! Toot! Toot!” sound. Similarly a beaver retrieves the triangle from an assortment of things that make a “Ding! Ding! Ding!” sound. An elephant and a squirrel find their piano and drum, and the band reassembles, led by their conductor, a bat. The animals’ questions are phrased in rhyming couplets: “The thing I lost goes Plink! Plank! Plunk! I play it with my big, long trunk,” explains the elephant. The simple, black-outlined cartoons against a white or pale yellow background extend the narrative so that readers are expected to discern objects with their corresponding sounds. The rabbit offers the elephant first a piggy bank (“Plink!”), then a flowerpot full of water (“Plank!”), and then a comically tiny piano (“Plunk!”). Unfortunately, as the band comes together, their meager performance reflects the bareness of this storyline. The bat ends the search and exclaims, “You found my things! They sound so grand. / One, two, three— // let’s hit it, band! / Toot! Ding! Plunk! Boom!”

The flat ending is disappointing for a group of characters who could have exhibited a rousing rhythmic finale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238068-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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