PARK, Linda Sue. Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs. illus. by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. 40p. Clarion. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544391017.
Gr 1-4 –Animal and word lovers alike will enjoy this clever take on homographs, in this case, verbs that are spelled and pronounced like animal names. Each spread features a comical illustration of animals engaged in unusual activities. A short sentence such as “Flounders flounder” or “Dogs dog dogs” appears on the verso, with a definition of the verb on the recto. Thus, yaks yak over tea, quails quail at an imposing dragon kite, bats bat baseballs in a midnight sky, and pairs of slugs slug slugs with red boxing gloves. A final spread offers a chart of the word pairs followed by the derivation of the animal’s name as well as that of the action word. In some cases the verb refers to the animal’s behavior, such as ape, parrot, and ram. In other cases, one seemingly has nothing to do with the other, as in quail, steer, and kid. The vibrant, amusing watercolor-and-ink illustrations introduce youngsters to some words and animals they may not know. They are occasionally enhanced with funny speech bubbles such as upside down flounders remarking, “I did not mean to do that” or relentless badgers begging an apple, “Be kind…give me the apple…you don’t need…[it]…. You could stand to lose a few pounds….” or greedy hogs hoarding piles of apples with signs like “MINE ALL MINE!” Other whimsical touches, such as a small fish fishing for The Book of Compliments will offer knowing readers a chuckle. VERDICT An original and fun way to build vocabulary.
This review was published in the School Library Journal December 2015 issue.