Hello, World! by Ethan Long

HELLO, WORLD! by Ethan Long
Review Copy from MacMillan Kids

HELLO, WORLD! is the first in a series of picture books set in Happy County, inspired by Richard Scarry's Busytown, a staple of my childhood and my children's. In fact, I almost named my son Huckle, but ended up giving that name, probably more appropriately, to our cat. Long definitely captures the spirit of Scarry's work while also updating it and making it his own. Like Busytown, Happy County is populated with anthropomorphized animals, many of them with playful names like Ballpark Franky and Cheese Louise along with Mr. Rhinehorn (the rhino)  and Mrs. Longnecker (a giraffe) and Monkey Mantle, a baseball player. I especially like Lucy Livingood, who is a "super-duper volunteer." After introducing the inhabitants and taking the scenic route through the county (with everything labeled) where a wind farm and a drone can be seen, readers get an up-close look at life in town. Long includes a fantastic amount of look-and-find experiences to HELLO, WORLD!, from a two-page spread that is a bird search to a shape and pattern search throughout the town. Interspersed with interactive pages are stories that feature the characters and their everyday experiences, from a visit to the dog park to a day at school, an afternoon at the music festival and a trip to the county fair. There is so much going on, yet Long's illustrations never feel crowded or confusing. And, for adults visiting Happy County, Long includes just the right amount of word play and visual jokes to keep you entertained.

HELLO, WORLD! is a super start to what I hope is a series. The second book promises to be just as good, if not better. Sun and Moon Together features great beginners science, from the water cycle and photosynthesis to the phases of the moon, the planets, and solar power. And, the third book, due out in March of 2021, promises even more exciting exploration with the title Lines, Signs, and Porcupines!

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