Matthew Porter is a monkey.
At least, that is my conclusion after seeing his author illustration on the back of his book, Tails Chasing Tails. After looking at his etsy store, I realized that he is probably just a human with a(n) (un)healthy interest in monkeys. But who cares? Because his book is brilliant.
I was won over by the illustrations before I even opened the book. I love simple lines – he has lots of those. I love the combination of bright/muted colours that makes the pictures really pop off of the page. I like the way the animals look like they are ever-so-slightly smiling as they chase each other around the pages. I like how they look almost like they are made of stained glass (they are not). Rather than scan and post all of the illustrations (which would be unlawful), I’ll encourage you – again – to look at his stuff on etsy.
So bla bla I like his illustrations, yes, yes. But is that the only good thing about this book? NO! Now that it has been in our house for two months (and one month more – hooray! – until the library policies require me to stop renewing it and return it) I have many, many, more reasons to like it. First, it’s clever. Every page is the head of an animal chasing a tail. What kind of tail? Well, you have to turn the page to find out! So the book becomes a guessing game of identifying animals by their tails. Sound boring? Well, my one-year-old likes it and my three-year-old niece likes it. Which is great because, let’s face it – board books are expensive. So any book that interests kids for more than a few years is an automatic winner. What else is fun about this book? It’s a circular book – the book that never ends! It begins with the elephant chasing…and ends with the grey curly tail being chased. So if you are my niece, this means you get to giggle hilariously and turn back to the front page! Not such a great pre-bedtime book, but fun nonetheless. And – it has animals! Which means, if you are my son, you get to make noises every time you see a new animal! He’s learning noises at an exponential rate, and he is even starting to identify who the tails belong to (at least, this is what I surmise since he barks when he sees the dog tail, and so on). Finally, the last page shows (in miniature) all of the animals with their heads and tails. So when the book is over, we get to sit and play “point-and-name” with the animals on the flyleaf.
Beautiful illustrations, fun guessing games, and animals. What’s there not to love?
Reading Ages: 6 month-3 years
Rating: A+. I may just buy it after we have to return it.
Favourite illustration: It’s so hard to choose. But I really like the duck’s face. And the fact that it’s a mallard. Because there are so many books with yellow or white ducks but the most common city duck is a mallard…so now the baby can learn animals that conform to his reality and not to some imaginary farm that we will never see.