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 funthis title is simple in appearance but exceptional in execution. 2005, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Ages 3 to 6.
School Library Journal - 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.
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)