Friday, December 10, 2010

18. Animals in Motion. Two Pop-Ups.

Wild Alphabet: An A to Zoo Pop-Up Book, by Mike Haines and Julia Frohlich, Kingfisher, $19.99, ages 3 and up, 52 pages. Twenty-five animals and one little insect play peek-a-boo with readers in this delightful alphabet pop-up that's small enough for a child to hold. Every letter is paired with a creature whose name starts with the same letter. On the right of each spread is an image of the letter and the creature popping up or sliding around each other, and to the left is a photograph of the same creature and a brief write-up about its behavior. Each description is written to sound like it's coming from the animal itself and highlights a word in playful type that epitomizes what this animal does best. For Hippopotamus, the word is "wallowing," and the type waves about on the page. Every page brings a fun and unexpected surprise sure to widen eyes, beginning with A for Antelope. As you open this spread, a bold letter A splits opens from its center like a door and the head of this long-legged beauty rises to you.

In another spread, a chinchilla scrambles around an exercise wheel, revealing a C behind the rungs, and in my favorite, J is for Jaguar, a sleek black cat slinks out from behind the J, just far enough to look sneaky, and make your insides tingle (and giggles spill).

10 Little Penguins: A Pop-Up Book, written by Jean-Luc Fromental, illustrated by Joelle Jolivet, engineered by Bernard Dulsit, translated by Amanda Katz, Abrams, $17.95, ages 4-8, 24 pages. From the French team that created the hilarious, oversized picture book, 365 Penguins, comes an adorable pop-up countdown. Ten penguins playing on the ice disappear one by one, but no worries, this isn't because their home is shrinking. Each is slipping out of the scene just for kicks and will reappear under an iceberg at book's end. Fromenthal's rhymes are a delight as he takes readers through playtime mishaps, beginning with penguin # 10 who's bowled off the ice into the brine and continuing to #1, who (chilled to the bone) hops a bus for Valparaiso. Jolivet and Dulsit punctuate each humorous verse, first setting up each playful scene then bringing on the mishap with a quick turn or pull of a tab, like penguin #9 getting swept into the water by a whale's tail and penguin #5 twirling under the ice while making figure eights. This is a book to be read and viewed sideways, again and again and again. "Please, Mom, just once more?"

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