cover image Splash!


Flora McDonnell. Candlewick Press (MA), $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0481-3

Just in time for the dog days of summer, McDonnell (I Love Boats) makes waves with this captivating oversize picture book. The story line is simplicity itself: hot and grumpy, Tiger, Rhinoceros and Mother Elephant follow a baby elephant down to the water hole, where they find relief from the heat. Pairing her bare-bones text (""Hot, hot, hot! The elephants are hot"") with big, bold, vibrant illustrations, McDonnell places her audience squarely in the midst of the fun. Underpinned by a thorough grasp of color harmony, McDonnell's artwork has an appealing, larger-than-life quality. Her color combinations tempt the eye and set the tone for each scene, from the orange and black stripes of a tiger's fur against a sultry yellow backdrop for ""hot,"" to the soothing blues and greens of the waterhole oasis for ""cool."" The splash-fest especially is sure to delight preschoolers: ""Whoosh! Sploosh! goes Tiger,"" reads one spread, while the next shows all four creatures romping, a ""Splash!"" printed next to each. With its easy, assured presentation belying a careful craftsmanship, this vigorous romp showcases McDonnell's keen sensitivity to the visual and verbal needs of the very young. Ages 3-6. (June)