I love it when I find a new ABC book with a twist, one that makes me smile. This one jumped out at me from the top of a library bookshelf.
First, the end paper, a place for kids to guess the animals associated with each letter. Some, like “X,” are tougher than others.
The expressive illustrations present the text’s humorous juxtapositions, showing characteristics that are either closely associated with the animal or fantastic imaginings.
“Alligators think you’d like them if you got to know them.”
How can you resist that sweet little bouquet of flowers?
“Dragons cry at happy endings.”
“Elephants are happiest at bathtime.”
Cue the giggles for both these images, one a surprise laugh, the other quite true to the animal’s normal behavior, although with the cutest elephants scrubbing away and the baby lounging on a floaty.
Further along we have Starfish (yes, they should be called Sea Stars, right?) that are confused by waving. The idea and image of how plants and Sea Stars wave underwater is true to life, but the idea that this confuses them is quite funny.
And then there is over-the-top humor combined with a real animal trait.
“Toads are terrific at tongue twisters.”
Just try wrapping your tongue around a swirly pile of ice cream while saying that tongue twister three times.
Kids will be sure to smile when they get to “Z” and that poor zebra. Always last in line….
Quite an engaging way to introduce or reinforce the alphabet. These types of concept books are often written by an author/illustrator, so it’s interesting to note that this one began with an author’s text. Take note picture book writers. There’s always room for more creative ABC books.
Try guessing the animals on the end papers before you read the book, and then after.
Discuss whether each illustration and text description represents:
- a real animal
- a trait that may have an element of “truth” but is depicted in a way to make it funny
- a trait that’s funny because it’s the opposite of what you would expect
- a trait that’s funny because it gives the animal human emotions
For those who enjoy doodling, draw a letter and then turn it into an animal that starts with that letter. The letter can be any part of the animal’s body. Easy ones could be turning an “O” into an owl or owl eyes, a line of “As” become alligator teeth, or the “Q” of a quail turned upside down become the quail’s head and topknot. Have fun!
TITLE: Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets
AUTHOR: Sara O’Leary
ILLUSTRATOR: Jacob Grant
PUBLISHER: Random House, 2018
THEME: Alphabet, Animal characteristics
You can find more perfect picture book recommendations at Susanna Hill’s blog.