As with Lick! (2013) and Sniff! (2012) before, Van Fleet presents an interactive book specifically designed with toddlers in mind.
This time, the subject is mouths, and despite the title, a majority of them do not appear to be eating: "Goat mouth bearded, / Tamarin mouth mustached, / Pig mouth hiccups, / Hyena mouth laughs!" Most of the pages present at least one or two tactile features. The toad's mouth is bumpy through raised embossing, and the bear's mouth sports "fuzz" through a velvety overlay. The best gimmicks here are Van Fleet's signature oversized tabs, which are easy to grab and sturdy enough for toddler manipulation. They allow readers to make an alligator mouth munch, a pelican mouth open and a beaver mouth chomp with audible clicks. The lighthearted cartoons of mischievous, grouchy and contented animals mesh well with the interactive elements. The rhyming verse doesn't scan and changes meter in the middle of the book, making for a clunky read-aloud, but since most readers will be so busy playing with tabs, they will likely not notice.
While the books in this series are formulaic, fortunately it is a formula that works. (Board book. 2-5)
Matthew Van Fleet specializes in sturdy, bright books with pull tabs, textures and moving parts. In “Munch” (similar to its predecessors “Lick” and “Sniff”), animals of all sorts — with expressions ranging from grumpy to glad — homp, grind, swallow and gobble their way through their favorite foods. The book’s text does not trip off the tongue, but kids probably won’t notice; there’s fun enough to be had in making a beaver’s teeth judder across a log. Thick cardboard makes “Munch” more durable than some such books, though there’s nothing to stop human teethers from gnawing their way through it if they are so inspired.