Four new titles for preschoolers star animal characters, every young child’s favorite picture book stand-in.
In Construction Kitties by Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges, four indisputably cute overall-clad kitties don hard hats and hop into colorful earthmovers to dig into a kid-friendly building project revealed on the back endpapers. Shari Halpern’s gouache illustrations channel Byron Barton’s style (strong black lines, rich hues) but with more subtlety of color. With its bold images and spare, energetic narrative, this is a great choice for story-time. (1–4 years, Ottaviano/Holt)
Duck can’t find his new blue socks and none of his animal friends is able to help. The jaunty rhyme in Eve Bunting’s Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? is hard to resist: “I will ask my friend the fox. / ‘Have you seen my new blue socks?’” Later, Mr. Ox says, “Did you look inside your box? / Did you ask your friend the fox?” The Seussian text begs to be read aloud; Sergio Ruzzier’s cartoon illustrations are captivating in their absurdity, and listeners will love pointing out Duck’s footwear, which is hiding in plain sight. (4–7 years, Clarion)
In The Black Rabbit written and illustrated by Philippa Leathers, a small, wide-eyed bunny finds himself terrified by his shadow, which he thinks is a large and menacing rabbit. He tries running from it, hiding from it, and finally manages to lose the black rabbit in the woods, only to encounter things far worse than one’s shadow lurking. The expressive and comic art cleverly plays up both the suspense and the joke of the shadow’s identity. (4–7 years, Candlewick)
“What did you do on your first day — the day you were born? Probably not much.” In My First Day, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page’s simple nonfiction text looks at different baby animals’ first hours of life. “On my first day, my mother held me close so I wouldn’t drift out to sea,” says a sea otter. “I dozed on her belly while she floated in the waves.” Jenkins’s torn- and cut-paper collage illustrations maximize the adorableness of the newborns as they take their first looks, steps, or leaps. (4–7 years, Houghton)
From the March 2013 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.