When the late Bill Martin Jr.’s name is attached to a picture book, you want to take notice. The author of more than 300 children’s books, he’s the man behind the beloved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, as well as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, both staples for the preschool set. And his newest book, published posthumously and in partnership with New York Times bestselling author Michael Sampson, the dean of the School of Education at St. John’s University, is a charmer.
This is a book that looks at young creatures, including humans, all over the world. They all wake to a new day with parents by their sides. The book explores, in very basic ways, their sounds and habitats. It all kicks off on the first full spread with the sunny, loving image from Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet of (human) mother-and-child duos. “Good morning, little one,” the mothers ask. “Can you hear the sounds of our world?” The following spreads feature various animals and the sounds they make—and with two simple sentences on each page, the last one noting which habitat constitutes “their world.”
With such spare text, Sweet has lots of room to show off her talents with watercolors and mixed media. Her palette is dominated by warm earth tones. (The bright red on the spread featuring the eagles steals the show.) Even if groups of animals are showcased, she always lets the parent and baby take focus on each spread. Several times, she switches from a horizontal orientation to a vertical one, such as with those eagles, who are “high above the mountain peaks”; the panda bears, whose world consists of the bamboo forest; and gila monsters, surrounded by the tall cacti of the desert.
The book closes with further facts about each animal, noting where in particular Sweet sets her families. These additional notes may spark further reading for the very young readers at which this book is aimed.
This is loving, affirming book.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.