“Two Dogs” by Ian Falconer

TWO DOGS
Written and illustrated by Ian Falconer

The creator of the “Olivia” books brilliantly demonstrates his theatrical experience as a stage designer in this delightful tour de force about twin dachshunds fleeing outside together when their people leave them alone. Drawn in what looks like caramel crayons, Augie and Perry – a veritable vaudeville act of opposing personalities – see through the glass of a charcoal door frame on a farm that looks like a hyper-realistic color photograph, a playground diorama with lime green grass, so perfect, it’s certain artificially. Before we know it, our animated canines have jumped into an extended set: paradise with pool. This impeccably choreographed ballet will surely elicit shouts of “Encore! Encore!”

40 pp. Michael di Capua / HarperCollins. $ 18.99. (Ages 4 to 8)

THE ELEPHANT
Written and illustrated by Leo Timmers

After swimming for his life, an elephant whose boat was sunk by a “noisy” wave reaches a “tiny little island” – a rock that is barely big enough to stand on. One by one, small animals arrive in small vessels to “rescue” him. Each time he “puts his foot in it”, he lowers the vessel as he steps on board, and each time he does his best to “salvage the situation”, he cheerfully adds a new companion to his pocket-sized room. In yet another triumphant experiment for the award-winning Timmers, his medium – here different kinds of sponges, razor blades and paint rollers to create different kinds of textures – is the essential embodiment of his message: “the magic of happy misfortunes.”

48 pp. Gekko. $ 18.99. (Ages 2 to 6)

RIDDERUGLE
Written and illustrated by Christopher Denise

In her first solo outing, Denise matches star-studded puns with a chiaroscuro technique in Old Masters style that is pure derring-do – a perfect fit for a book about a little owl with big ambitions. Although lifting even the smallest shield causes the Owl to fall backwards, and he has “a habit of nodding off during the day,” his chivalry will charm even the most angry dragons among us.

48 pp. Christy Ottaviano / Lille, Brun. $ 17.99. (Ages 4 to 8)

NORTON AND THE BEAR
Written and illustrated by Gabriel Evans

The conceit that allows this book’s premise – gripping comic tension between an “unusually unique” dog and a copy bear – to succeed so spectacularly is its setting, a world in which fully clothed animals walking on two feet mix seamlessly with people. A hen with a briefcase watches along with neighborhood children while a beret-bearing cheetah juggles in the street; a fox chatting with a girl at a cafe; a turtle in business suit carries a packed lunch on the way to work. Norton and the bear do not just seem human; they are human. And clothes do not make the animal.

32 pp. Berbay. $ 17.99. (Ages 3 to 6)

ARMADILLO ANTIQUE
Written by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson.
Illustrated by Nathalie Beauvois.

One of several collaborations between Martin (“Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”) And his good friend and reading expert Sampson, which was left unpublished at Martin’s death in 2004, “Armadillo “Antics” pays homage to the nocturnal creatures that roamed the woods outside their houses in Commerce, Texas. It is this nocturnal aspect that the talented Argentine collagist Beauvois captures so beautifully. Although strongly influenced by Eric Carle’s painted paper style, Beauvois’ brushstrokes are more coarsely carved, her textures more swollen, her backgrounds darker. And sometimes – yes, it’s true – she deliberately goes beyond the lines.

32 pp. Brown Books. $ 18.99. (Ages 2 to 5)


Jennifer Krauss is the editor of children’s books at Book Review.

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