Fast Cheetah, Slow Tortoise: Poems of Animal Opposites

Eerdmans. Sept. 2024. 40p. tr. from Dutch by David Colmer . Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780802856357.
PreS-Gr 1–A clever picture book that connects children with a plethora of vocabulary detailing opposites found in nature. Each spread features two animals that contrast in a specific way, and the words describing these differences are highlighted in bold. Beneath these words are corresponding poems as spoken by the animals they reference. The poems themselves are delightful in their design, particularly because they do not rhyme, which is contrary to what is found most frequently in children’s literature. Instead, the poems directly reflect the characteristics defined by the vocabulary words featured on each page. Translated from its original Dutch, this book adheres well to the original while being accessible to an English-speaking audience. However, the text is occasionally difficult to read against the background images due to the color choices used, but the book is otherwise enjoyable. On each spread, the featured animals are shown in relation to one another and are depicted using illustration methods that are true to van Hout’s iconic style. These visuals allow children to better understand the creatures in this book, especially any animals with which they may be less familiar. Rich vocabulary, unexpected animal qualities, and clever poetry make this book an engaging selection for young readers and their families.
VERDICT A unique book of opposites for children who enjoy learning about animals and being exposed to unfamiliar words.

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