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Zip It: A First Book of Fasteners

Patricia Hegarty, illus. by Fhiona Galloway. Tiger Tales, $12.99 (10p) ISBN 978-1-58925-554-8

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Five animals—from a frog whose lips actually zip to a pig with a literal button nose—help readers master the sometimes frustrating process of dealing with snaps, ties, and other fastening devices. Rhyming verses and step-by-step visual instructions provide encouragement, while the smiling animals create a subtly reassuring atmosphere. Hegarty saves the toughest task for last, inviting readers to tie the tails of two purple mice into a bow. “You might need an adult to help you here,” notes a third mouse, who’s quite right: even with an accompanying rhyme (“over/ under/ around/ and through/ pull loops tight/ then undo!”), the visual bow-tying directions aren’t as clear as those in the preceding pages. Ages 3–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Snip Snap Pop-Up Fun

Jonathan Litton, illus. by Kasia Nowowiejska. Tiger Tales, $9.99 (10p) ISBN 978-1-58925-548-7

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In one of two titles in the Little Snappers series (Cheep Cheep Pop-Up Fun is available simultaneously), Litton offers five animal-themed questions for readers, with the answers revealed in pop-ups hidden behind flaps. “Who’s lying in the yellow grass with peeking watchful eyes?” reads the opening page, as a magenta snake exchanges glances with a pair of eyes peering from a spiky bramble. Lifting a large flap reveals a pop-up of a hungry carnivore: “It’s Lion who’s about to pounce—to little Snake’s surprise!” Cheery rhymes, visual clues for each answer, and Nowowiejska’s friendly animal cast add up to a fun, light diversion. Ages 3–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Wild About Shapes

Jérémie Fischer. Nobrow/Flying Eye (Consortium, dist.), $16.99 (70p) ISBN 978-1-909263-38-3

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Acetate inserts—printed with abstract shapes in pink, teal, and yellow—transform Fischer’s equally abstract screen prints into animals in a process that’s graceful in its execution and delightful in its simplicity. The acetate pages alternate with paper ones, and where they overlap, handsome portraits of elephants, turtles, snails, and other creatures emerge, while simultaneously introducing basic color theory. (Laying an acetate sheet printed with a yellow Rorschach-like blob atop a wavy teal shape creates a green octopus with elegantly curling tentacles, for example.) Clever and rewarding, this ranks with Hervé Tullet’s Press Here and Rufus Butler Seder’s Scanimation series as a book whose deceptively simple interactivity creates a reading experience that’s nothing short of magic. Ages 3–7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Look!

Édouard Manceau. Owlkids (PGW, dist.), $19.95 (30p) ISBN 978-1-77147-102-2

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Like an amped-up game of I Spy, this oversize board book with a large die-cut rectangle in its center uses verbal prompts and interactive elements to invite readers to study the world around them. The die-cut effectively turns the book into a frame through which children can locate nearby objects that correspond to Manceau’s questions (“Do you see anything red? Orange? Blue? Green?”). Other questions revolve around identifying items of varying sizes, distances, and shapes, while novelties like pages covered in orange fuzz or stuck together with Velcro (“Do you see things that make noise?”) will remind readers that the object they’re holding in their hands is as special as anything they might see through the window at its center. Ages 3–7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Puzzling Cats

Linda Falken. Abrams, $16.95 (16p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1363-7

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Readers get an up-close look at cats that appear in eight works of art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in this oversize board book, which features a 16-piece jigsaw puzzle for each image; they range from an 18th-century Chinese handscroll that shows cats frolicking to a cubist portrait from French artist Fernand Léger. Opposite the puzzles, which are insets of the larger works, interactive prompts (“There are three cats in this painting. Can you see them all?”) and background information (“See the card in the bird’s beak? That is where the artist wrote his name on the painting”) invite study and discussion. Simultaneously available: Puzzling Dogs. Ages 3–6. (May)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Croc!

Jo Lodge. Hodder (IPG/Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $11.99 (14p) ISBN 978-1-4449-1785-7

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Back for another pop-up book, Lodge’s cheerful green crocodile is having a birthday party, and a variety of flaps, tabs, and pop-ups let readers get in on the fun. Reprising the question-and-answer format of the previous books, an unseen narrator checks in on Mr. Croc throughout the party (“Mr. Croc, have they brought presents?”). “Yes! Fun presents for me!” Mr. Croc responds; pulling a tab reveals the contents of the wrapped box Mr. Croc holds, which turns out to contain a toy robot. An in-your-face palette and Lodge’s punchy cartooning provide a light, upbeat overview of a birthday party, from invitations to games and cake. Up to age 5. (May)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Raindrops Roll

April Pulley Sayre. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2064-8

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“Raindrop spangles/ mark angles./ They cling to curves/ and cover cocoons.” In playful rhymes and breathtaking nature photography, Sayre offers a dramatic examination of a rain shower as droplets soak birds, roll down pumpkins, dot the backs of insects, and muddy the forest floor. Sayre’s close-up photographs are startling in their intimacy—a bead of water seems to defy gravity as it pools precariously on a green leaf, while dozens of tiny drops illuminate a spider’s feather-light web. These images alone are enough to make the book a treasure; an informative closing section exploring water’s forms, behavior, and characteristics is icing on the cake. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Toad Weather

Sandra Markle, illus. by Thomas Gonzalez. Peachtree, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56145-818-9

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It isn’t just the young heroine of Markle’s story who isn’t thrilled about an excursion into the rain—her grandmother is just as grumpy about the idea when the girl’s mother suggests it (“I vote we turn around and go home,” says Grandma). But their perseverance is rewarded when they discover why the girl’s mother dragged them outdoors: a mass migration of toads crossing a blocked-off street to lay eggs in nearby water. Helping the toads with their journey proves a bonding activity, and Gonzalez’s pastel, pencil, and airbrush illustrations movingly highlight the softening attitudes of the girl and her grandmother as they get swept up in one of nature’s small, unexpected miracles. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Flowers Are Calling

Rita Gray, illus. by Kenard Pak. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-544-34012-1

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The team behind Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? returns to explore the way flowers seem to “call” to certain pollinator species in order to propagate. Gray’s rhymes use poetic red herrings of a sort to engage readers: “Flowers are calling a desert deer./ No, not a deer! He can’t even get near./ They’re calling a nectar bat to flap over here.” Pak’s digitally altered watercolors capture a wide range of flora and fauna, from delicate Queen Anne’s lace to pale moonflowers that attract moths by night. It’s a sophisticated blend of scientific information and artistry. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Fiona Kenshole, Transatlantic Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Sun Above and Blooms Below: A Springtime of Opposites

Felicia Sanzari Chernesky, illus. by Susan Swan. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-3632-2

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In their fourth seasonally themed, concept-driven collaboration (following Sugar White Snow and Evergreens and other titles), Chernesky and Swan allow readers to accompany an ethnically diverse class on a field trip to a farm. As in the earlier books, Chernesky’s upbeat verse puts the concept front and center (“From far away a weather vane/ led us down a crooked lane,/ past straight wood fences, squat red pens./ We parked near barns and clucking hens”), and Swan’s detailed, vividly textured collages invite close study of each page. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Susan Hawk, Bent Agency. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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