Given how small the world has become, multilingualism can only be seen as an asset, especially for the youngest global citizens. Parents keen on the idea of early immersion can get an immediate start with two new board books from Anne-Sophie Tilly and illustrator Julien Chung, both of which present the names of animals in English, French, and Spanish. Hurry Up! (Annick Press, Ages 2-4) is a basic word book featuring some less common animals, with names ranging from those similar across languages (lion, le lion, el léon) to the less intuitive (toad, le crapaud, el sapo). Black-and-white illustrations provide the high contrast babies are drawn to, while the animals are playful and easily identifiable. Don’t Move! (Annick Press, Ages 2-4) takes things to the next level by asking the child to figure out the animal from a clue (the tip of the iguana’s tail, the rhino’s horn, etc.) on one page before the full reveal on the next, setting the stage for more advanced learning. The tri-language play is still in effect, with the added bonus of bright colours and a fun closing scene that is sure to delight.
Eric Walters draws on his abiding love of Africa for his latest offering, An African Alphabet (Orca Book Publishers, Ages 0-3), which takes readers to the savannah without the lengthy plane ride. African animals of every description, from the famliar giraffe and zebra to the lesser-known topi and pangolin are presented in full grandeur thanks to Sue Todd’s bold linocut artwork. Strong black lines and saturated colour offer striking visual interest (the kingfisher is especially brilliant).
Creative masters Robert Budd and Roy Henry Vickers treat younger readers to iconic imagery drawn from the beauty of the West Coast in Hello Humpback! (Harbour Publishing, Ages 2-6). Vickers’s stunning visuals combine traditional indigenous elements with a colour palette that ranges from bright and bold to moody and soothing. The duo’s rhyming text is gentle and friendly, allowing readers to focus on the gorgeous illustrations while learning.
East coast collage artist and photographer Angela K. Doak’s introduction to Atlantic wildlife in Atlantic Animal ABC (Nimbus Publishing, Ages 0-2) is all about the art. Set against a stark white background, the native animals – created with varied materials including fabric, junk mail, and even gum wrappers – pop delightfully off the page. The text (capital and lower-case letters alongside the name of the animal) is set in a bold, baby-friendly font.