Magic Tree House
Junie B. Jones
? Just like children everywhere, the animals in this picture book’s rain forest amuse themselves with a game of hide-and-seek. When Elephant offers to count, things get off to a rocky start (“‘Hey! No peeking!’ shouts Flamingo”), but soon everyone—including Rhino, Gorilla, the starlings, and the big-eyes bush babies—are experiencing the familiar “where should I hide?” panic. Tall Giraffe’s options are limited to trees, and Tortoise, who can pull himself into his own hiding place, is mistaken for a rock. Birds have the obvious advantage, but there’s one animal who can best them all: Chameleon. Na (The Book of Sleep, 2009) creates swirling, vibrant, Technicolor-layered digital illustrations that sparkle as they introduce the pals at play and present the spectacular rainforest from a number of vantage points. Elephant, set off on the right-hand side, restlessly switches positions with each page turn (it’s sometimes dull being the counter), and his voice grows louder as the tension mounts and the number approaches 10. Not only is this a fun introduction to 1 to 10 counting, there is also the opportunity to join in the action: where is chameleon hiding? With a glorious color palette and an accessibly-presented topic, this will be a sure hit with preschoolers.
— Ann Kelley, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
?Na’s (Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit) creative vision turns a group of animals’ game of hide and seek into a joyful spectacle. Featuring a predominantly pastel palette, the delicate art incorporates a range of intricate patterns and textures. As in Na’s previous books, swirls and spirals are common motifs, giving the pictures buoyancy and a sense of motion. The game is set in a rain forest where an elephant with heart-patterned ears counts to 10, as other animals find hiding places of varying ingenuity. A giraffe takes cover behind a tall tree, while a gorilla stands atop a mottled turtle, pretending he’s a statue. The cleverest player, of course, is the chameleon, and readers can find him in various scenes, including a dazzling, sunlit spread in which the chameleon’s friends give up and shout “Come out, come out, wherever you are!” Na’s shifts in perspective—spying on the game from behind, from above, and from below—add visual interest, and the elephant’s continued counting “1… 2… 3…” generates a fitting degree of excitement and low-grade tension. Ages 2–5. (May)
- Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
? Expert hide-and-seekers will hear the hushed scuttles and feel the quickened pulses as a group of animals plays a rainforest game of hide-and-seek.
Elephant counts while his animal friends scurry. Butterflies flutter around the crouching little elephant, a new one joining in with each page-turn, adding up to a swarm that equals each giddy announcement: 1, 2, 3! Meanwhile, flamingo, chameleon, giraffe, rhino, monkey, tortoise, the starlings and bush babies hasten to get hidden. Momentum mounts as readers alternate between an animal wondering, for example, “Can I hide behind this rock?” (on left-hand pages) and the elephant’s’ escalating counting (on the right). Na also directs readers’ eyes up into the canopy and down into the underbrush, where creatures look for cover, getting them to crane their heads and look at the forest from every angle. Text size swells and reduces, indicating emphasis, and keeps the antsy energy going. Digital layering produces a fantastic fusion of painterly textures, soft patterns and fine outlines, yielding ethereal illustrations with dappled colors that shine like light through a leaf. So many undulating components could easily turn into roiling confusion on the page, but here each element coheres beautifully, rendering a sweetly swirling, tie-dyed rainforest awash in reds, yellows, greens and blues.
Ready or not! Here comes a book worth finding. (Picture book. 2-5)
- Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW