Animal Babies Like To Play

illus. by Mary Lundquist. 32p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Feb. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062394477.
Toddler-PreS–Dressed head-to-toe as "baby" animals, kids find active ways to spend their day appearing in animal alphabetical order. "Alligator baby wants to play./Bunny baby says, 'Okay.'" There is very little story here, and the text simply restates what happens in the pictures. In some cases, the text would be indecipherable without the illustrations. (For example, "Vulture baby says, 'You haven't caught one yet?'" is pictured with another child chasing butterflies.) Several of the depicted activities are beyond the scope of the preschool audience (playing jacks, skipping rocks), and the early elementary set will find the "baby" theme distasteful. Disappointingly, the animals seem arbitrarily selected, and the text relies entirely on the illustrations to hold it together. Lundquist's gouache and pencil illustrations are gentle and whimsical, just like the subjects of her pictures. She effectively uses minimalist backgrounds, making details in the forefront pop with color.
VERDICT Other than the illustrations, there is little else to recommend this book. With so many alphabet books on the market, this one can be passed over.

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