Dottie Dolphin and Ping Ping Panda

By Maurice Pledger
Published on 10 March 2015
Published by Silver Dolphin Books
Source: Publisher
Ping-Ping Panda is searching for some tasty leaves with the help of her hummingbird friend, but as they roam through the forest, all they find are other animals' favorite foods. Will Ping-Ping find something to satisfy her rumbling tummy? Help Ping-Ping and her friends explore the forest in this interactive story with flaps to lift and colorful, detailed scenes by best-selling nature illustrator Maurice Pledger.
By Maurice Pledger
Published on 10 March 2015
Published by Silver Dolphin Books
Source: Publisher
When Dottie Dolphin dives deep into the ocean to play hide-and-seek with her siblings, she discovers a wonderful world of ocean animals. Join Dottie and her new friends beneath the waves in this interactive story with flaps to lift and colorful, detailed underwater scenes by best-selling nature illustrator Maurice Pledger.




You know, when I first began book blogging, I didn't imagine that books for children this young would ever show up on my desk, but here we are. So, I'm going to preface this by saying that I don't remember being small enough to have these sorts of books read to me nor do I have wee smalls for me to read these books too. I am probably one of the least qualified people around to review these with regard to actual facts children. I'm sorry, internet. I have failed you.

However, I do know a thing or two about art and have done enough lessons on what appeals to people psychologically to maybe do a thing here. It's like all those thousands of dollars of schooling are being put to the test right now and the only pencil I have is a 6H.

Speaking from a literary standpoint both Dottie Dolphin and Ping Ping are the same book. Both main characters want to go find something (their family, bamboo, etc) and in doing so make friends with the creatures in the world around them. It's not a complex plot, but these books aren't meant for people who require complex plots. Those reading these books over and over again might, but tough luck that's basically how all wee small children's books go. If it's made of laminated cardboard, you oughtn't be expecting the toddler version of Call of the Wild. Which, actually, can we get that? And then find a time machine to send it to wee small me? Or just send it to me now. Toddler Classics. Someone make that a thing unless it's already a thing that came out of the Baby Einstein fad in which case someone point me at these books.

Anyway, I'm sorry caregivers of wee smalls, but you're probably already well aware of the repetitive nature of things marketed to that age bracket and have long since accepted the reasons behind it even if you might, perhaps resent hearing wheels on the bus for the 324098234920th time.

All that said, the artwork in these books is really quite lovely. The colors are bold and exciting and yet appropriate for their stories. The characters actually do seem to have a little personality to them, though I'm not entirely certain if that's me just going "Yeah, you get that lunch, Ping Ping" because like many people I deeply identify with any quest for food. There's enough different dialogue that I think you could totally get away with amusing yourself (and the wee smalls,) by changing voices for different things. It's all frighteningly hard to read deadpan. I tried. There's just something about children's books though and you can't, not really. It takes way more effort to deliver apathetically than it does to just give in and act like you're surprised by what's behind the flap even if there is no wee small present. What I'm saying is yes, yes I did read these books to a stuffed animal. We had a grand old time hoping our housemates didn't come down and see us and oh man I am an adult. I do adult things. I pay bills. I vote and buy cigarettes and yeah okay should not have admitted reading a review book to a stuffed animal to you guys. All complaints or revocation of my adult status can be directed to the blog email.

There are only a couple issues I have with this book. The first is that because of the way eyesight develops in humans, I worry that there's not enough depth in these images. No, the illustrator didn't need to get all dynamic shadows and highlights fully rendered realistic sea creatures and the lot, but there's points particularly in Dottie Dolphin where I can see that it might be difficult for very young eyes to distinguish between dolphin and sea. That, of course, is kind of the point of dolphins being the color they are, but some shadow wouldn't really hurt this case. We might be building future marine biologists or other sorts of STEM children here, but I think they might just understand the need for one blue-grey blob to be slightly different than another blue blob. Ping Ping occasionally has this issue as well, but it's much less pronounced given the color scheme of pandas versus basically everything else around them.

The other slight issue I can see happening here is that the flaps don't seem all that sturdy. They're not flimsy by any means, but I do wonder how many grabby, messy infant fists they can handle before the parts of the story printed on the insides of these flaps are completely lost to time or just awkwardly taped in while you still might know where the tape is and I don't blame you at all if you don't overwhelmed and disorganized hypothetical parent figure. I can't even find my glasses half the time.

These are cute books. If you want to read animal books to your wee small or know someone who would like to read animal books to a wee small, by all means, get them. They've even got the fun little texture stuff on the cover for the dolphin and the panda and that panda is super fuzzy. Super. Fuzzy. So soft. Augh. Child appropriate material with vibrant art and an introduction to animals that aren't dogs or cats or raccoons that might help build curiosity in the rest of the world? Heck yeah. Do the thing. This is, of course, presuming you are considering buying this from an English speaking country that's, well, North American. Look, there's a red panda in Ping Ping and a sea turtle in Dottie Dolphin I am not going to complain. I am going to recommend these books...conditionally.

What I'm not okay with, and here's where it's obvious that I spend a great deal of time on tumblr, is that in Ping Ping Panda, which is presumably set in the wilds of China given that there are an abundance of different animals and she has to go looking for food that is not just magically handed to her, the panda is the only one with a non-Western name. The other names featured in the book are: Rusty, Becky, Polly, Katie, and Hannah. That's right. The book set in China has one appropriate name (which might not actually be, though I don't have the background to look that up someone please correct me if I'm wrong for feeling that the effort for alliteration here is just...kind of gross?) the others are basically stereotypical white girls and Rusty who is only appropriate because the animal is literally kind of rust colored. If you're going to only invest in one of these books? Make it Dottie Dolphin. They both have their faults and their good points. It really is up to the caregiver in this case what they want to expose the wee smalls to. They're cute cardboard kids books. And like I said, the panda's fuzzy.



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