Animal Antics: A to Z

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Overview

From adoring alligators
to zany zebras,
the animals in this book
are sure to keep you amused
with their antics.

And look at the acrobats!
For they are
a talented group indeed.

Using only their bodies,
these limber contortionists
are merrily forming
all twenty-six letters
of the alphabet.

The animals are impressed.

You will be, too!

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
As she did in Allison's Zinnia and On Market Street, Lobel has taken a familiar picture book concept and given it a fresh, imaginative twist. Under the big top, pairs of animals from adorable alligators to zany zebras are playfully posed while high overhead on the tightrope acrobats bend and twist and contort their bodies into the shapes of the letters. Each animal exemplifies all the characteristics of its modifying adjective and the circus theme is carried out in every detail from the title page and its verso through each animal duo. The watercolor paintings will capture the readers' attention but little fingers will want to turn the page and possibly guess the next animals to appear. Clever, creative, and just plain fun—this title is simple in appearance but exceptional in execution. 2005, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Ages 3 to 6.
—Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-"Adoring Alligators," "Charming Camels," and "Elated Elephants" are joined by more unusual animals ("Impish Ibexes," "eXuberant Xenopus," and even a pair of "Unlikely Unicorns" are a few) in this colorful circus-themed, animal-sounds book. Lobel's affection for the dramatic is reflected in the format: each letter is presented on a brightly curtained page (or stage) of its own. An assortment of acrobatic tightrope walkers-clowns, mostly, but with pilgrims and peasants appearing on occasion-contort themselves to form uppercase examples, and the stars of the show-the animals themselves-wear festive party hats and neckpieces. The artist's trademark watercolor-and-gouache illustrations are rich and painterly, with a Peaceable Kingdom-like frontispiece portrait of the animals, sans costumes. A concluding page of "Animal Answers" offers anecdotal details about each creature. Because the adjectives chosen are a bit oblique (what makes an ostrich obedient, say, or a quetzal quaint?), and because the initial letter-sounds are not always in sync, this fanciful work may not function as a traditional alphabet book, but Lobel's fans and collectors won't care.-Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This bright, bold alphabet concept book offers a circus tent of animal favorites dressed in a variety of hats and accessories below a series of agile acrobats contorting their bodies into the shapes of all 26 letters. Lobel uses deep hues in watercolors and white gouache to illustrate her menagerie of "adoring alligators," "elated elephants," "kooky koalas," "romping rabbits," "tender tigers," "eXuberant Xenopus" or "zany zebras." Her acrobats display an equal feeling of playfulness portraying clowns, pilgrims, Eastern European folk and even a likeness of the author herself. A final page of "Animal Answers" briefly gives a two to three sentence summary of the creature's actual characteristics and traits. A charming and literary frolic through a carnival of letters, descriptive adjectives and critters. (Picture book. 3-5)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060518158
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books
  • Publication date: 9/6/2005
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Anita Lobel was born in Cracow, Poland, just before the beginning of World War II. In the proper Jewish household of her childhood there were several servants. One of them was Anita's beloved nanny, who had taken care of Anita and her younger brother since their birth. Throughout the war, this strong-willed Catholic countrywoman guarded Anita and her brother, passing them off as her own children. For five years they were moved from town to village until they were discovered hiding in a convent and taken to a concentration camp. Somehow they survived until liberation and were brought to Sweden. Eventually Anita's parents were located, and the family was reunited in Stockholm. There Anita went to high school and began taking art lessons. When the family emigrated to New York, Anita won a scholarship to Pratt Institute.

In New York she met and married Arnold Lobel. She became a textile designer, working at home while their two children were growing up. One Christmas she gave Susan Hirschman, then Arnold Lobel's editor, three small scarves that she had made from some of the intricate flowery prints that she specialized in. Susan suggested she do a picture book, and the result was Sven's Bridge. The book was published in 1965 and made the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year list that fall. (It was redesigned in full color and reissued by Greenwillow in 1992.)

Anita soon discovered that she could combine the exuberance of her decorative fabric designs with the narrative form of picture books. There have been many books over the years, including pictures for texts by various writers; collaborations with Arnold, such as On Market Streetand The Rose in My Garden; and her own adaptations from Scandinavian folk stories (King Rooster; Queen Hen; The Pancake; The Straw Maid).

Some of Anita's most challenging favorites have been Princess Furball and Toads and Diamonds by Charlotte Huck; This Quiet Lady by Charlotte Zolotow; and The Cat and the Cook retold by Ethel Heins; as well as her own alphabet books&#8212Alison's Zinnia and Away from Home&#8212and The Dwarf Giant, the art for which was inspired by Japanese theater. Her most recent work is her memoir of her childhood in war-torn Poland called No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War.

Anita's interests in theater and music and foreign languages have served her well in her work both as an author and an illustrator. She has also designed clothes, embroidered tapestries, and designed stained glass windows. She has been an actress and a singer. "It is the 'drama' in a picture-book text that interests me the most," she has said. "I 'stage' the story the way a director might work on a theater piece. Even though I have been involved with picture books for many years, with each new text, whether or not I have written it, I am always looking for a new 'vision.' And in the past few years full-color printing techniques have been so improved that I have had a chance to rediscover the way I wanted to paint pictures when I was a young student in art school."

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