Simplicity is the soul of Shapiro's toddler-friendly poem about the different ways that animals and humans communicate ("Pigs squeal. Horses neigh. Chickens cluck. But I SAY!"). It's also at the heart of dePaola's crayon-bright artwork, a model of merry restraint. Along with a trio of the artist's trademark images of chunky, round-headed children (multicultural of course), the animals (and their sounds) are each depicted in a series of gaily bordered portraits that include just enough detail to suggest each critter's habitata cozy rag rug for a tabby cat, a tree for a monkey, a muddy field for a pig. The spareness of line is carried over into the festive borders, which embellish the pages with polka dots, squiggles and zigzags set against backdrops in fresh shades of kiwi, cantaloupe, lemon and watermelon colors. A treat for the eye, this one is sure to delight during lap-time snuggles or preschool story hoursand may well coax a baa or moo or two from the littlest ones. Ages 2-6. (Sept.)
In this very simple poem, the sounds that animals make are named and compared to the sounds that children make (speak, say, talk). The cast of three multicultual kids has the dePaola look and is genuinely appealing. The animals, each of which is featured on its own bordered page, are shown making their clucks, quacks, or neighs. This is a fine book for very young kids; it introduces them to animals and the sounds they make, while also making the point that children (humans) speak.
PreS-Gr 1DePaola's latest offering combines his wonderfully detailed folk-art illustrations with a poem by Shapiro originally entitled "I Speak, I Say, I Talk." Three wide-eyed, enthusiastic guides, two boys and a girl, bear the message that every living thing has something to utter, but only humans talk. Speech balloons encapsulate their words. The two characters who aren't speaking listen and watch their friend with happy facial expressions. Brilliant watercolors and a vignette-style format make this book a perfect choice for read-aloud sessions. The animals represented are shown in their natural habitats: the bear snores while hibernating in a cave, the sheep bleats in the meadow, the frog croaks in the pond, etc. However, Shapiro's poem uses sounds that are not commonly identified with that animal. For example, "Crickets creak" rather than chirp; "Flies hum" rather than buzz. Still, this is an entertaining presentation of a concept not commonly introduced to young children.Susan Garland, Maynard Public Library, MA
Although Shapiro's name does not appear on the jacket, it is his elemental and immediate poem about animalsincluding humansand the sounds they make that is set to dePaola's handsome illustrations. Readers meet coyotes, doves, chickens, and others: "Cats purr. Lions roar. Owls hoot. Bears snore." "But I speak," "But I say," "But I talk" are the three human responses, allowing dePaola to use children of different races to be included in the exercise. It's a merry communication free-for-all, and repeat readings ought to lead to a measure of audience participation. The artwork is painted in elegant muted colors, each image looking like a lovely, folk-art postage stamp. A couple of the creatures appear in unusual settings: a cricket before a glowing bed of embers, a fly surrounded by an aura of hums. But for the most part the cow is in the corn (mooing), the pig is in the poke (squealing), and the bats are in the belfry (screeching), and all is well with the world. So why is Shapiro not given credit up front?