Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Wild! by Courtney Dicmas

To be completely honest, I haven't felt very enthused about the picture books I've seen from Courtney Dicmas. I haven't been able to really get into her art style. However, when I got this new set of board books she has written and illustrated I had a very different reaction. I think her art is really suited to this medium - the bigger picture books seem to have a lot of white space and make her art too minimalist, fading into the background.

Wild! shows animals in four different daily activities; at play, eating, taking baths, and at bedtime. Wild! Bathtime has a simple rhyming text but paired with the wacky pictures is hilariously funny. When it says "Let's scrub our hands, and our faces," we see a mother cat and kitten washing their faces with tongue and paws and when it continues onto the next page, "And all those other...hard to reach places!" there's a troop of monkeys picking at each other's fur.

Wild! Mealtime shows another set of funny animal couples, parent and child, at mealtime. The mother snail has veggies for her baby, while the mother chipmunk warns her baby, with bulging cheek pouches, "Just take it slow." It ends with a naughty raccoon baby who's been hiding his peas - or so he thinks!

A series of playful animals are featured in Wild! Playtime from zooming otters to the harried father lion on the front page. Several of the animals are linked to natural behavior in the wild like dancing cranes and hopping kangaroos.

Wild! Bedtime is, I think, the funniest and features some of the more unusual animals. A perky little bunny shows up with her "teddy" to her mother's horror - it's a real bear! A flock of cygnets settles in on a swan's back, and "Kiss you, and turn out the light." is matched with an anglerfish, complete with glowing light.

Dicmas' art shows animals and backgrounds created with loose shapes in pastel hues. Additional details are added in a bright rainbow of colors. Some color schemes are similar to natural coloring, like the gray elephants and pink piglets, while others show a vibrant imagination, like the pink and purple cats with rainbow whiskers. In a few of the pictures the loose art style makes the activity unclear; from an adult perspective, I know the foxes are diving into the snow (to hunt mice probably) but the minimalist art won't make that clear to a child. However, most of the pictures work quite well for an older toddler and parents will appreciate the added humor of the pop-eyed animal  parents trying to survive their offspring's shenanigans.

The rhyming text isn't always perfect and there seem to be a lot of unnecessary commas, but since the primary draw of a board book is the art, especially for the younger toddlers, that's not a major issue. The books are a nice, sturdy square, about 7x7 inches, 7 pages each.

Verdict: This is a fun series with cute illustrations and generally acceptable text. Recommended as an additional purchase if you're looking to add to your board book collection. Board books are a major part of my circulation and collection and I would happily add them.

Wild! Bathtime
ISBN: 9781846436864

Wild! Mealtime
ISBN: 9781846436840

Wild! Playtime
ISBN: 9781846436857

Wild! Bedtime
ISBN: 9781846436871

Published March 2015 by Child's Play; Review copies provided by publisher; Donated to the library


Laura Perenic said...

It is discouraging when you share adorable books that I cannot find on goodreads or at my own local library. Where are you getting this cute stuff and why on earth don't more people read your blog so they know to buy these things for their patrons?


Jennifer said...

awwww, I connected with Child's Play at an ALA a few years ago and encouraged them to send me board books for review - there are very few review outlets for board books. For that matter, many libraries don't buy them or buy very few. I think they're an important collection and I think my library may have one of the largest collections in our area! (and Child's Play publication dates are wonky - Amazon says they've been out since fall 2014, they sent them to me in January, and Baker and Taylor says their publication date is March!)

Franchacha said...

Try the Child's Play bookstore online: UK and USA and Australia available