OUT OF THE ORDINARY
Clarke, Jane. I Saw Anaconda: A Cumulative Lift-the-Flap Story. Nosy Crow,/Candlewick, 2017. [16p.]. $14.99. 978-0-7636-9336-7.
In a cumulative story similar to the classic song “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” a little boy observes a large snake swallow a tick, skink, frog, and more, until the snake burps up the lot. The narrative has repetition, rhythm, and rhyme, and was a hit at storytime. The original take on the popular song makes this stand-out; the pop-up features are an extra plus.
The colorful cartoon-style illustrations featured a bug-eyed snake and other animals, with the boy and his binoculars lurking in the background on each spread. The interactive features include flaps, gatefold pages, and dramatic pop-ups, which add more interest to an already solid story. Although this is unlikely to stand up to library circulation, it is recommended for purchase for storytime copies and in-library use, due to the solid storytelling and the book’s charm.
Arrhenius, Ingela P. Main Street Magic. Chronicle, 2017, [20p.]. $16.99. 978-1-4521-6157-0
Originally published in France in 2017, this digest-sized picture book features numerous flaps, gatefold pages, and two small pop-ups. A little blond boy goes to various shops on Main Street, including a bakery, fish market, hair salon, and museum, ending at a small circus. Under many of the flaps are small surprises, such as a rabbit under the magician’s top hat, and a robber inside a museum sarcophagus. Overall, the story is not very eventful, but it is amusing. The delicate nature of the flaps and lack of a strong story doesn’t make this a compelling library purchase.
Schatz, Kate. My Rad Life: A Journal. Illus by Miriam Klein Stahl. Ten Speed, 2017. Unpaged. $12.99 (paperback). 978-0-399-57950-9.
This diary/journal would make a nice gift for a tween or teen girl, who can use it to inspire daily journaling. Using artwork from Schatz and Shahl’s series of collective biographies of strong women, this also contains quotes from several notable women from several different cultures. There are also writing prompts, including questions and blank dialogue balloons. The b&w cut paper artwork, pastel page decorations, and other visuals add interest to this journal, and nearly 50 women are featured. Although it is not suitable for libraries, it could go on a list of gift books to recommend to library users.
Pang, Hannah. Wilderness: An Interactive Atlas of Animals. Illus. by Jenny Wren. Tiger Tales/360 Degrees, 2016, [16p.]. $22.99. 978-1-944530-03-7
Packed with information and filled with flaps, this nonfiction book on habitats/biomes include spreads on the rainforest, savanna, ocean, freshwater, desert, polar areas, and mountain (which contains on dramatic pop-up). Because it offers so much information and uses sturdy flaps, this is worthy of library purchase and circulation.
Each habitat is described in language an elementary school student can follow, and students in grades 3-6 can read on their own. After the habitat is introduced, the text focuses on various animals that live there, including mammals, birds, insects, and other wildlife. There is only a sentence or two on each animal, but the reader can grasp the variety of animals in each habitat, and how creatures have adapted to live there.
The spread on the polar areas cleverly lays out the text on the Arctic at the top; then readers turn the book upside down to read about the Antarctic. Many spreads feature a small booklet embedded into the page, focusing more detail on specific species, including insects of the rainforest, unusual deep sea creatures, and honeybees. The full color artwork depicts the animals in a realistic way that omits the need for photographs. Sure to be popular and a great browsing item for reluctant readers.
Walden, Libby. In Focus. Illus. by Barbara Bakos and others. Tiger Tales/360 Degrees, 2016. [24p.]. $22.99. 978-1-944530-02-0
Ten different subjects are the focus of this unusual nonfiction look at cross-sections of a wide variety of items. Each spread has two gatefold pages giving each topic a total of six pages. Each shows the outside of the item, such as a landmark building, then the inside, with a few paragraphs explaining what the reader is seeing.
The subjects are wide-ranging, from ocean creatures, to houses, to fruits and vegetables. Most school age readers are likely to focus on the spreads featuring animals, space, buildings, and vehicles. Each of the ten spreads are illustrated by a different artist but all depict the subjects in full color and realistically.
Often the item can be too technical or complex for the few sentences allowed, including car engines and televisions, but since this is a browsing item and not for research, that is to be expected. Not a first purchase, but some libraries will find fans of this type of book.
Litton, Jonathan. Hello World: A Celebration of Languages and Curiosities. Illus. by Atelier Cartographik. Tiger Tales/360 Degrees, 2016. [16p.]. $19.99. 978-1-944530-00-6
This oversized nonfiction look at world languages and cultures features sturdy board pages embedded with medium and small flaps that will hold up to library use and circulation. Many are thumb-sized flaps, similar to those seen in advent calendars. The full color artwork adds interest, but generally, many of the figures are costumed in a way that some may see as stereotypical, similar to Disney’s “It’s A Small World.”
The opening spread features a map of the world, showing the continents and introducing some of the languages spoken by focusing on the greeting used in that country. Later spreads show each continent with more information on the various languages, including the spellings of the greetings, and some other interesting details.
Overall, this is a fun browsing item to help introduce the continents to elementary school students, and a nice lesson on the diversity of languages and people of the world.
Penny Peck, San Jose State University iSchool