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Review of Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs

park_yaks yakYaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs
by Linda Sue Park; 
illus. by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Primary    Clarion    40 pp.
3/16    978-0-544-39101-7    $16.99

Park and Reinhardt pair animal names with actions in this picture book in which yaks yak, apes ape, parrots parrot, and finally kids kid. Each double-page spread features a single phrase such as “Flounders flounder.” Somewhere on that spread is the definition of the verb form of the word: “to flounder = to be helpless.” The watercolor and ink pictures show wide, flat flounders floating upside down or twisted around with word bubbles saying things like, “Whoopsy daisy,” “I did not mean to do that,” and “ACK! I’m upside down!” Visual humor abounds — in another spread fish fish with fishing poles, and one fish’s line is attached to a book titled The Book of Compliments. Details such as hats and teacups carry through from picture to picture, and on each spread the animal’s behavior and interaction with other animals of its kind are spot-on, as when one badger badgers another with incessant pleading, its skinny paws outstretched for an apple. The final spread gives the etymological background (“Old English,” “Old North French”) of each animal name and action. Children will recognize the behaviors from their fellow humans while learning new vocabulary in a memorable way.

From the March/April 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Susan Dove Lempke About Susan Dove Lempke

Susan Dove Lempke is a Horn Book reviewer and director of the Niles Public Library District in Illinois.

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