Alligator or crocodile? Clementine or mandarin? Star or planet? Tights or stockings? Anyone who has ever wondered the difference between two similar items – this book is for you: What’s the Difference? 40+ Pairs of the Seemingly Similar by Emma Strack, illustrations by Guillaume Plantevin, 2018. 

What is it about?

I’m generally a fiction person. I have always preferred reading stories over facts, fiction rather than history. But when a book comes along that does such a fun job relaying factual information, I take notice. 

This book is 100 pages full of fun, unique, interesting details about the differences between two similar things. Beginning with a table of contents, it divides the items by animals, food & drink, geography, fashion, human body, and city. 

Why I picked it

This is one of those books that works because it can be a favorite to someone, sit on a shelf with other lovely and occasionally looked at books, or be on display on the coffee table and interest any passers-by. The layout is strong and visually engaging. The combination of Strack’s information about each item and Plantevin’s digital illustrations makes a really beautiful book. 

I love the choice to make the background papers all different colors. With the items on every spread maintaining the same layout and grid of information, it is much more visually compelling to have the variety in paper color. It would feel surprisingly sterile and monotonous to have stark pages and the simple presentation of images on each page. 

I’m always on the fence about digital illustration, but Plantevin did an excellent job with these. There is a lot of texture and dimensionality, without feeling overly done or too pared down. And I love that I can sit with this book for long periods of time, or just pick it up for a few minutes.

Who will love this?

This book definitely skews older in age range. Younger children will certainly find it lovely to look at and engage on a simpler level with illustrations of interest, but the length and facts of the book make it an excellent book for 5 and up, with interest probably increasing with knowledge and an expanding worldview. I would not hesitate to give this to any adult either. It is beautiful, interesting, and covers a variety of topics.

Bonus Gift Pairings

This book goes great with a cup of coffee in my opinion. Perhaps a humorous pun mug to go with it. It would also be interesting to pair with a game like This or That?

See you tomorrow for the next book from this year in my 25 Days of Favorite New Picture Books countdown!