By Danielle Daniel, Groundwood Books, ages 4-7
Maybe you have a monkey or a bear cub in your house. Maybe you have one child who you call bunny. The children in Danielle Daniel’s meditative book, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox” name themselves after animals to suit their moods and emotions: “Sometimes I feel like a bear, strong and confident. I stand tall and growl and protect those around me”; “Sometimes I feel like a wolf, intelligent and loyal. I surround myself with family and howl into the moonlight.” This gorgeously illustrated book of children and their totem animals reverses the custom of most picture books in which animals act like children. The small trim size of the book makes it fit neatly in two hands, but the ideas inside unfurl outside the pages into readers’ own imaginative worlds.
‘Where’s Walrus? And Penguin?’
By Stephen Savage, Scholastic, $16.99, ages 3-6
In the wordless and witty “Where’s Walrus? And Penguin?,” Stephen Savage gives the wily, tusked escapee from his 2011 hit “Where’s Walrus?” a penguin companion/accomplice, which ups the opportunities for visual tomfoolery. Together the two try to blend into all manner of city scenes to elude capture by the bamboozled zookeeper.
The fun begin when it starts to rain at the zoo. Walrus and Penguin slip through the gates and fall in line behind adult visitors with umbrellas, clutching the hands of children in brightly colored raincoats headed for the subway. The zookeeper gives chase and follows the wily pair as they blend in, posing as mother and child on the subway, among rowers on the river, as a driver and dapper passenger in traffic. Each modern illustration — in bold colors and graphic shapes — of their camouflage act is like a set-up to a visual joke; the punch line comes when readers spot the walrus and penguin and the thwarted zookeeper nestled in each scene. The whole book — with its top hats, newsboy caps, gender roles, and mustachioed Keystone Cop style zookeeper — has a snappy vintage style. Even the storybook ending — there’s a wedding! — hews to the neat, old-fashioned feel.