Preschoolers + animal tales = story-time success. Here are four new books that add up to silly fun for both group sharing and bedtime reading.
In Mem Fox’s Two Little Monkeys, Cheeky and Chee are happily playing on the savanna until—“something’s prowling— / what could it be?” Off they dash up a “big old tree.” When they feel brave enough, they peep down to check: “Who IS that prowling? / What do you see?” It’s a leopard (“Ooooooh… Scary!”), but the illustration isn’t too threatening. Fox’s peppy rhyming text propels the story forward; Jill Barton’s watercolor compositions keep pace with the narrative’s infectious energy. (Beach Lane/Simon, 2–5 years)
Wild About You! by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown, concludes: “To bring up a baby… / It takes a whole zoo!” When all of the other animals in the zoo start having babies, a pair of pandas and a tree kangaroo bemoan their childless state. Soon the three grown-up animals find themselves with families that aren’t quite what they expected. Sierra’s rhymes are full of surprises; Brown’s inviting illustrations enhance the text’s warmth. (Knopf, 3–6 years)
Oh, No! by Candace Fleming, a cumulative tale about animals falling into a hole, is a sure-fire crowd pleaser. “Frog fell into a deep, deep hole. / Ribbit-oops! Ribbit-oops!…Frog fell into such a deep hole, / he couldn’t get out to save his soul.” Frog is followed by Mouse, Loris, and more. Tiger—lurking nearby—threatens to “help [them] out”; luckily Elephant shows up just in time. Eric Rohmann’s energetic relief prints show the animals’ tumbles into that deep, dark hole from a variety of perspectives. (Schwartz & Wade/Random, 3–6 years)
Marla Frazee’s Boot & Shoe is a nimble tale of misplaced assumptions. Dogs Boot and Shoe (named for the markings on their paws) share a lot of things, but Boot spends his days on the back porch and Shoe passes time in the front. After a squirrel gets both dogs riled up enough to give chase, they each end up on the wrong porch—then decide to sit down and wait for the other. The sprightly lines of Frazee’s black-pencil and gouache illustrations add to the slapstick humor. (Beach Lane/Simon, 3–6 years)
From the September 2012 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.