PreS-Gr 2-- From the common frog to the unfamiliar xenops, 26 animals hide in the jungle, forest, or pond, waiting to be found by readers. A spread at the end of the book further challenges young eyes to seek them out, while the letters appear in a collagelike mass on the last page. The design and contemporary palette (mauve, teal, coral, terra cotta, tangerine, ocher) combine to make this a visually pleasing book. Each uppercase letter is enclosed in a colored square, superimposed in the corner of a larger depiction of the camouflaged creature in its habitat. Tiny drawings appear on each page, offering readers visual clues in this hide-and-seek game. And it is as a game that the book works best. It lacks focus by presenting unicorns and dragons along with real animals in what could otherwise be an introduction to the concept of camouflage. Further, while most animals appear in their natural hues, others are more fancifully colored. Still, in one-on-one sharing or in small groups where the animals will be easier to spot, children will delight in the hunt. Pair it with Yoshi's Who's Hiding Here? (Picture Book Studio, 1991).-- Marianne Saccardi, Whitby School American Montessori Center, Greenwich, CT
Camouflage puzzles and colorful illustrations enliven this alphabet book. Every page presents the reader with a letter, an animal name beginning with that letter, and a picture within whose pattern the animal lurks. Except for two mythical beasts (dragon and unicorn), the animals presented are real, wild animals, and many are uncommon (vicuna and xenops, for example). The pattern in the picture usually portrays the animal's natural environment, while the camouflage reflects its ability to blend with its surroundings. Some of the puzzles are easier to solve than others, but children always have the help of a small picture of the animal printed in the margin. The illustrations themselves are warm and attractive, with deep colors and strong, clear lines. Although intricate, the patterns are never overwhelming. This is an inviting way to introduce children not only to the alphabet, but also to animals and their habitats.