Hippopposites is a book I might have easily passed over. Books that serve to educate toddlers by comparing opposites are a dime a dozen. But French graphic artist Janik Coat's debut kid's title tackles this familiar board book theme brilliantly with a refreshing designer's spin, covering the basics, as well as a fair amount of more sophisticated contrasts that will surprise you. Employing a minimalist maroon hippo as her protagonist, Coat introduces such elementary concepts as big/small and light/dark, as well as ones with a more aesthetic slant: clear/blurry, invisible/visible, or opaque/transparent. She also addresses the tactile, soft/rough, depicted in fur and burlap, and the spatial, full/empty, demonstrated by a hollow die-cut.
Even if some of the pairings seem more geared for preschoolers, Coat's use of a high contrast palette of red, white, and black will surely grab the attention of the infant crowd until they're old enough to grasp the more conceptual parallels, giving Hippoppsites an extended shelf life beyond the teething phase.
• Find it: Hippoppsites by Janik Coat (Harry N. Abrams, 2012)
(Images: Ben Partridge)