Oh, Nuts! is a highly entertaining new picture book written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Dan Krall. It's the tale of three chipmunks who live at the zoo. Despite their best efforts, Cutesy, Blinky, and Bob can't seem to get any attention from the zoo-goers. Everyone gawks at boring things, like the giraffes flicking bugs with their tails, or the possum playing dead. Even when the determined chipmunks start up a band and play from a rooftop, no one notices them at all. At least not until an idea for stardom comes from an unexpected source.
Despite the over-the-top antics of the chipmunks, the text in Oh, Nuts! is actually rather understated. Like this:
"They needed a plan.
Cutesy thought as she fluffed her fur.
Blinky thought as he tapped his foot.
And Bob? He pretty much just sat there.
"Ooh! Ooh! I know," said Cutesy. "Let's give ourselves makeovers!""
"Then a miracle happened.
Bob had an idea.
He sprang to his feet. "I GOT IT!"
And he shared his plan."
Certain words in the text are rendered in larger font ("miracle" and "plan" in the previous example). This provides nice cues for emphasis when reading aloud.
But it is Dan Krall's digitally created illustrations that add wacky humor (and a tiny smidge of pathos). Cutesty, Blinky, and Bob are caricatures of chipmunks, with enormous eyes and/or cheeks. The people visiting the zoo are comic-like, too, with big heads and over-sized mouths. They remind me a bit of the people in Bob Staake's illustrations, though with far more realistic skin colors. The chipmunks "spiked" up for playing music are hilarious. And when they use lost and found items to dress up as other animals, to the complete disinterest of the crowd, they are forlorn and pathetic. All of the other animals are shown as bored and/or boring, with sleepy eyes (well, except for the pigeons - they are a special case). But Cutesy, Blinky, and Bob are never dull.
Krall uses bold colors and dramatic backgrounds. On the page in which a miracle occurs, a rainbow stretches over the page, and golden light beams down from above. Idea-generating Bob has a light bulb over his head. Everything about the illustrations is over-the-top and energetic, a perfect contrast to the quieter text.
Oh, Nuts! is sure to please preschoolers, or anyone else who has ever wanted just a bit more attention (hmm... this might actually make a decent middle school read aloud, though I doubt that was the author's intent). I haven't tried it out yet on Baby Bookworm, but I am anticipating that it will become a favorite. Recommended!
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's (@BWKids)
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).