After seeing my frenzied enthusiasm, the rep kindly produced from some magical place an F&G of this title for me and I present it to you in all its glory.
Susan Stockdale has written and illustrated several nonfiction picture books for young children. Our favorites, at my library, are Fabulous Fishes and Bring on the Birds, both rhyming. Stripes follows the style of these two books with rhyming couplets split between pages "Stripes found in water,/sliding through weeds./Drinking from rivers,/and darting through reeds." The book goes on to describe a variety of actions, with one picture for each, until the final couplet which incorporates children, in this case holding kittens. Back matter includes thumbnail illustrations and an identification guide, along with how the featured creature uses its stripes. This book has an additional bonus, a page of close-up stripe illustrations that can be used as a guessing game.
Stockdale's swathes of blocky color are one of the most attractive things about her books. They're definite enough to identify the different animals, but still have a unique, stylized look. Her style is especially suited to patterns, like stripes! It's hard to decide on a favorite picture; I love the elegantly arched tail of the cover skunk, but the intricate markings on the bongo and its steady stare as it stands on a peak in the moonlight are awesome as well. Then there's the adorable baby tapir, with his stripes and spots, the turkey with not only a beautifully striped and edged tail but also carefully detailed black and white striped wing feathers...they are ALL my favorites! I am generally not a fan of rhyming text, and honestly it's not going to win any awards for the beauty of the language, but the great strength of Stockdale's text is how perfectly it fits together with the illustrations, making a complete whole that has so many applications in storytime and just reading together, while still being an enjoyable, well-written book, that it's really a must for any library that serves small children.
I am excited about using this book in storytime. This one has even more applications than her previous books. We often chant the rhymes aloud while turning the pages, something the kids starting doing spontaneously for me. We also guess at the types of animals, then look to see if we're right in the back. This book has so many geographical locations, that's another aspect to explore - are they on a mountain, in the jungle, under water? There's also discussion fodder in how the animals use their stripes, especially looking for the ones who use them for camouflage.
Verdict: Preorder it now! I put it on my March order and will be using the F&G I received in displays to promote the book. I think this might be my new summer kindergarten outreach storytime book as well, much as we love Fabulous Fishes. An absolute must for your library.
ISBN: 9781561456956; Published April by Peachtree; F&G received from the publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013; Purchased for the library