Four Otters Toboggan

Four Otters Toboggan, by Vivian Kirkfield, Illustrated by Mirka Hokkanen, Pomegranate Kids 2019
03/16/2019 Review

This lovely book was written by Vivian Kirkfield, who is a debut author this year, although this isn’t her first book to release in 2019. She had Pippa’s Passover Plate come out in February this year, followed by Four Otters Toboggan in March, and her third picture book, Sweet Dreams, Sarah, comes out in May!

Description from the Publisher: “Water wakes. Wildlife greets the day and finds shelter, safety, and fun on the river in this lyrical, ecologically oriented counting book. One willow flycatcher, two dragonflies, three kit foxes, and more thrive in their habitat. As kids count, the day turns from dawn to dusk, and the character of the water changes as quickly as a child’s moods. Animals sing, leap, tiptoe, toboggan, hoot, hunt, flit, flutter, and hover. They ride out a storm, bask in waning rays, and tuck in under the silver moon.”

I’ve always heard that the best picture books have many layers. Well this delightful concept book has layers in spades!

Layer 1: Animals. Kids love animals – in fact, don’t we all? This book introduces us to 10 endangered species that live in or near the water, teaching us a fun fact or two about each one. If you want to learn more, the back matter contains additional information about each species, where they live, and why they’re endangered.

Layer 2: Numbers/counting. Your child will enjoy counting one through ten as each new animal species is introduced.

Layer 3: Cycles. The story starts as the sun rises, and ends after it sets. Bookending this day, water waits. And each scene is introduced by water as it ripples, calms, splashes, glistens, and flows.

Layer 4: Poetry. This book is beautifully lyrical. With exquisite word choice, alliteration, metaphors, and rhythm, each scene evokes a unique mood and tone to match the the animal it introduces.

Layer 5: Art. The artwork is beautiful and matches the tone the text evokes, with each page illustrated in its own color palette. Impressively, this book was illustrated by “modern wood engravings.” I can’t even imagine the time, talent, and dedication that took!

Layer 6: Conservation. The story itself evokes the beauty, majesty and calming force of nature … which sets us up perfectly to care deeply when the back matter tells us how each species is threatened or endangered, and provides some information about conservation.

In short – this is not a simple counting concept book. It’s so much more than that – a true work of art!

*Thank you, Vivian, for providing me with a free PDF copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

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