Opposite Surprise

"Small or big?" "Empty or full?" "Straight or curvy?" Appearances can be deceiving in this sturdy square board book about one of the more fun early learning concepts: opposites! Open the book to any page and see, for instance, a bright yellow sun, the heat blazing out its rays. The bold text across from the picture reads simply, "Hot or cold?" Hot, of course, right? But open the gatefold and--surprise!--that wasn't a sun, it was the tops of two icy popsicles! Then, "Thin or wide?" It sure looks like a thin pencil... but no, unfold the page and discover what you were looking at was in fact the edges of a wide bridge. "One or many?" One sweet sheep stands alone... until the double-creased page opens to reveal many sheep--what looked like just one was the front of one and the back of another.

The youngest readers will delight in the unexpected in Italian illustrator Agnese Baruzzi's charming, interactive Opposite Surprise. Baruzzi, who clearly enjoys inspiring readers to shake up their assumptions and explore different perspectives, as evidenced in Look, Look Again and Topsy-Turvy Monsters, knows better than to clutter up the pages of a book designed for children who are just starting to play with words. Minimal but thickly drawn text on brightly colored solid backdrops contrasts appealingly with clean, colorful illustrations on the bright white opposing pages. Tots will not only begin to grasp the concept of opposites; they will have a glimpse into a (friendly) world where what you see might not be what you get. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

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