Sometimes I think that zoologist Nicola Davies is working almost single handedly to fill the shelves with captivating books about animals and nature for the eight and under crowd. Her books Just the Right Size, Talk, Talk Squawk, Who's Eating You? and Poop are funny and fascinating. Now, with What Will I Be? and Who's Like Me?, Davies begins what I hope will be another series of books for Candlewick Press, aimed this time at toddlers, under the umbrella title, Uncover & Discover.
With thick, glossy pages somewhere between a board book and a paperback, What Will I Be? and Who's Like Me? have flaps! More than just a book about what animals hatch from eggs and cocoons and what babies grow into which adults, What Will I Be? and Who's Like Me? encourage readers to think and engage with the books beyond merely looking under a flap. Marc Boutavant's bright, big eyed animals are perfectly matched to Davies' words. A bit cartoonish and very cute, Boutavant's animals are sure to grab the attention of even the littlest listener. Boutavant also illustrated Mary Ann Hoberman's last book of poetry, All Kinds of Families and wrote and illustrated his own seek-and-find, Around the World with Mouk.
Who's Like Me? does more than ask "who's furry and has four legs?" The book introduces concepts like breathing air and breathing water and terms like mammal, amphibian and reptile. In Who's Like Me? every other page has four flaps for readers to peek under. The final page shows images of all twenty animals introduced in the book and asks, "Who belongs together? Who's like who? Use the colors to give you a clue!" The animals are grouped by the background colors and, just in case mom and dad can't figure it out, there are answers along the border. The final flap of the book asks, "What group do YOU belong to? Who's like you?" Beneath the flap is a little girl and the text reads, "Rabbit, elephant, beaver, fox, bat, and kangaroo - they're all like you! You're a MAMMAL, too!"
What Will I Be? is even more of a guessing game for little naturalists. The text gives clues and the flap (this book has one flap per page) is decorated with the fur, feather, etc. of the mature animal or insect hidden beneath. Turtles, tadpoles and baby birds and polar bears are featured in What Will I Be? with the final page again a collage. This time, the reader is asked to match the egg with the turtle, bird or tadpole and so on. The last flap has a picture of a baby boy above it and asks, "And what about this baby? What will HE be?" and reveals, "A LITTLE BOY just like me!"
A few more great illustrations from Marc Boutavant.