The Home Builders

illus. by Simona Mulazzani. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Feb. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399166853.
PreS-Gr 1—While Bajaj's This Is Our Baby, Born Today followed the birth of one elephant, this new offering explores how an array of woodland animals build safe habitats for their babies. Owls, tortoises, ants, foxes, bees, and many other critters make their homes in trees, grass, on ridges, in the water, and underground. Mulazzani uses acrylic colored pencils and collage on paper to create expansive illustrations with pink sky tones, giving readers a sense of calm. Soft dark blue night skies, sparkling with stars, and sleeping animals complete this vision of serenity. The illustrations suggest, rather than attempt a factual representation. A honeycomb-shaped intersection of a beehive appears to be floating in mid-air, but careful inspection will lead to discovery of an attached beehive under a bridge earlier in the book. While sometimes the text and pictures do not entirely connect, the overall impression is that of poetic narrative, interpreted artistically by the illustrator. Simple elegant rhyming words lead readers to learn the names for each animal baby, but not the adult counterpart, suggesting that this picture book is not meant to instruct but rather encourage little ones to immerse themselves in the lush experience. By using the pictures to fill in the missing details, adults and children can explore and interact, creating a conversation prompted each discovery.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for large collections seeking gentle nighttime reads about animals, babies, and habitats.

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