cover image Animal Trunk: Silly Songs to Read Aloud

Animal Trunk: Silly Songs to Read Aloud

Charles Ghigna. ABRAMS, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-4200-4

Every one of Belgian artist Gabriel's illustrations for this animal kingdom primer is a stunner. Set against full-bleed backgrounds of vivid, saturated yellow, red, blue or green, his limited palette portrays exuberant bears, monkeys, lambs and other creatures that bring to mind primitivist folk art. A voracious crocodile rockets out of the water, his scaly skin looking like a mosaic of blue and green bottle glass. A tiger erupts in a feast of unexpected colors that evoke a tribal mask. Most of Ghigna's (Tickle Day: Poems from Father Goose) simple rhymes rely heavily on repetition (""Crocodiles sun./ Crocodiles nap./ Crocodiles yawn./ Crocodiles snap""), and their chantlike meter meshes well with Gabriel's exotic visual stylings. Just when readers settle into a rhythm, a welcome aberration comes along (""It's easy to laugh/ At the tall giraffe/ Each time we go to the zoo""). This lively collection will have children clamoring for repeat performances until they can read all the rhymes solo. Ages 3-5. (Sept.)