Top critical review
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Where's the beef? Oh, page 3.
on November 28, 2008
In looking for another whimsical, creative, offbeat baby book like Pat the Bunny I found that this title, among others, was purchased on Amazon by people who bought Pat. Because of the connection with Pat I was expecting something more than just five Peek-As, and also that every image would be tied together in a story.
The Peek-As are: Owl/Who, Cow/Moo, Ghost/Boo, Animals/Zoo, Train/Choo-Choo, and the predictable mirror/You. The cutouts through which you see part of the full image are the same angled peanut shape on every page.
I would have expected the partial views through and around the peanut cutout to contain interesting hints about the uncovered image that encourage the baby to reason a guess, not just to recall an associated design. Only the Zoo page really has anything approaching that (leaves and animal designs...but in that image the partial view of the giraffe looks like a quilt so it may be more confusing than helpful). I also saw a nice opportunity to shape the cutouts into something meaningful...perhaps a different cutout relating to each hidden Peek-A.
I gave this as many as two stars because baby's mom says that it will help her practice similar-sounding words and I like the graphics and title.
In reviewing the three books I purchased to replace Pat I thought about the qualities of the better books we already own that, I believe, make them so good: (1) little visual details that the baby can gradually notice after repeated readings (plentiful in Big Red Barn), (2) an actual story about something in the real world, perhaps repeated in a few different ways (as in Bear Hunt) or with different types of characters (as in More, More, More Said the Baby) or even just an underlying structure that can be learned along with individually engaging images (like in ABC Kids or 100 First Words), (3) interactivity that involves the baby in more than one action (as in Pat the Bunny or the color/object books with things to feel or move), (4) creative or whimsical elements that aren't in any of the hundreds of other books the baby will read (like in Pat or the Very Hungry Caterpillar), (5) a style (story or images) that has become archetypal and hasn't been ripped off or repeated by everyone else (any of the above), (6) lyrical text (Brown Bear or Bear Hunt), (7) a story with an enlightening theme that isn't sappy or preachy (like What Daddies Do Best).