What Will Hatch? by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani
This simple little book builds tension through the use of a guessing game and the wonder of waiting for an egg to hatch. On one page, the habitat and a little description of the eggs are given, with the question of “What will hatch?” Take a guess, turn the page and find out the answer. There are lots of surprises along the way. The clever use of die cuts in the pages that peek through in egg-shaped holes adds to the fun.
Eight different animals are shown here with basic information. Nicely, there is more information at the end on each of the animals as well as information on chicken egg development. Ward’s text is particularly simple, just a few phrases with a skip of repetition. It is the illustrations here that really make the book. Done in gouache on wood, the images have a lovely texture to them that combines beautifully with the swirling nature of the art. The texture also reinforces the natural subject matter in a subtle way.
A great pick for toddlers, this book will keep them guessing as the pages turn. Expect to have to share it again and again. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Red Hat by Lita Judge
This picture book is a companion to Red Sled. It features that same red hat that was in the first book, but here it is no longer winter and the hat is washed and hung up to dry on the line. That’s when it is spotted by an eager bear, who snatches it off the line and runs off with it. But he is not alone, as he dashes, other animals pull and tug, freeing the white pompom and unraveling the bright red yarn as they play. They leave the mass of yarn hung on the line in place of the hat! But don’t worry, a happy ending can be knit from the most tangled yarn.
Told almost entirely in sounds rather than words, this book is filled with a wonderful silliness that makes it hard not to giggle from the first longing glance of the bear to the final pages where the animals are pretending innocence at what happened. The center of the book is a wild chase scene as the hat unravels, adding a great rush of fast pacing into the story.
A great book, even better when read with the first one too. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale
Visit this gallery of animals who bear stripes of all sorts. There are animals that live in the ocean, ones that slither in grass, large cats, amphibians, insects, mammals and more. Drawn in crisp illustrations that show the stripe detail as well as pieces of their habitat. The book reads quickly, carried forward by the rhyming text. Children looking for more information on the intriguing animals can turn to the back of the book.
Thanks to the rollicking rhyme and the short sentences in the body of the book, even toddlers will enjoy this nonfiction book. Older children will enjoy talking about the different animals and reading more details.
Entertaining and informative, this is a very flexible title that a wide range of ages will find interesting. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Peachtree Publishers.
Stardines: Swim High across the Sky and Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger
This poetry book takes the wit of Prelutsky and combines it with equally amazing illustrations. Prelutsky tells of unusual creatures in his poems here. He writes of creatures who are a mix of animal and inanimate objects. For example, there are the Slobsters who are very messy lobsters who love being crude and dirty. There are Plandas who are pandas that sit around and make elaborate plans but never do anything. Tattlesnakes are snakes who are nosy and always tattling on others. This menagerie of incredible creatures will be enjoyed by children who love puns and humor.
Prelutsky excels at creating poetry that both of interest to children but will also make them stretch their vocabulary a bit. He throws in words like “slovenly,” “pretension” and even “lachrymose.” Thanks to his rhythm and rhymes, these words slide by almost effortlessly and usually the definition can be figured out in the context. He also has woven puns and humor into all of the poems, nicely creating creatures that speak more to the human condition than to the animal.
It is Berger’s art that really makes this book an incredible read. Thanks to her dioramas that show the creatures in collages and boxes, the book is a true exploration of the intriguing. She has deftly incorporated pins and labels that make the illustrations look like lab specimens, but without hampering all of the action in the images by pinning down the animals themselves.
Thrilling illustrations and superb children’s poetry create a poetry book that is wild, funny and a delight to read. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.
A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke
Welcome to the world of the Avarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, the world’s only sloth orphanage. Here you will meet the residents like the queen of the sanctuary, Buttercup, who started the entire thing. Now over 20 years old, she is the oldest sloth living in captivity. She was soon joined at the sanctuary by many others. There are tiny baby twins and others who are so small they have to have clothes made for them out of socks to keep them warm. There are injured sloths who give incredible hugs. The book describes the different kinds of sloths, how they live such chill lives, and the remarkable ways they survive in the wild moving that slowly. This is a book that will enchant you with the fuzzy warmth of sloths.
Cooke writes in a frank and direct way, describing the sanctuary and its residents with plenty of humor. After all, there is lots of to laugh at in a poo pole all on its own, add in confused little sloths and you have pure stinky magic. She also makes sure that readers understand how special the sanctuary and these animals are. It is a book of appreciation with a tone of wonder at times.
The illustrations are photographs of the sloths and their lives in the sanctuary. You get to meet all sorts of personalities and ages throughout the book and their stories are told quickly but effectively. The images help a lot, showing the place rather than having lengthy explanations slow things down.
A great addition to library collections, this book has a great charm about it just like the sloths themselves. Warm and welcoming, this book is all about being more chill. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
This is the story of a little girl who just wasn’t sleepy at bedtime. Her parents agreed that she didn’t have to head right to bed, but she did have to put on her pajamas. Then she had to wash her face, and that felt good. She climbed into bed, because she loved the feeling of the sheets. Then she asked about whether everything in the world sleeps. Her parents explain that yes, like the dog being asleep on the couch where he shouldn’t be. The book turns to explain about different animals and how they sleep from the upside down bats to floating whales to hibernating bears. After talking, her parents let her stay awake in her bed. The little girl begins to sleep like each of the animals, curling up like the dog, folding her arms like bat wings, finding the warmest spot like a cat. Until finally, she is asleep like the strong tiger.
Oh what a bedtime story! I had heard great things about this book and at first saw beautiful illustrations and a fairly normal story, but that changes and becomes something very special. Once the little girl is in bed and talking about the animals, the language becomes more poetic and filled with imagery. It is warm, cozy and infinitely inviting.
Zagarenski’s illustrations have a richness about them that enhances this bedtime tale. Thanks to the golden crowns, they have an illuminated manuscript feel. There is plenty of texture and pattern, but also a modern zing to the illustrations. They are entirely winning.
This glorious bedtime story is a real treat to read aloud. Get your own jammies on and cuddle up, I promise you will be dozing in no time, just like a tiger. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Underground by Denise Fleming
Explore the wonders of what happens underground in a garden with this picture book from the Caldecott Honor medalist, Denise Fleming. This book takes the joys of digging in the dirt one step farther, offering a simple poem that invites children to explore and then illustrations that show a cross section that reveals all of the action happening below the surface. Roots grow, moles and chipmunks make tunnels, a turtle lays her eggs, worms are pulled by a robin.
Fleming’s simple poetry makes this a great option for small toddlers, those same ones with the dirty hands from digging in the dirt. She then takes her signature pulp-paper collage and brings life to the book. The pulp paper offers a texture and richness that is specific to that medium. It is bright, deeply colored, and has a dimension that is remarkable. Here the use of it to build that rich underground world is ideal. The illustrations are large enough to use with a group, but detailed enough that there is plenty to explore up close.
Turn to the back pages for more details about the animals shown in the illustrations. Ideal to read in the garden with a pail and shovel nearby for immediate exploring. It will also make a great addition for any spring-themed units or story times. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from library copy.
Animal 123 by Britta Teckentrup
Animal Spots and Stripes by Britta Teckentrup
This pair of lift-the-flap books for preschoolers are very cleverly done. My favorite of the two is the counting one, where the flap on each page lifts to reveal the next number and another one of the animals to count. Spots and Strips also has flaps which in this case lift to reveal related animals with either spots or stripes that contrast and complement the animals on the main page. The flaps on both books are large and sturdy, making these books that libraries could have on their shelves.
Teckentrup’s graphics are really what make these books special. Her use of bold colors and large sized illustrations are striking. The animals are jaunty and filled with life, fairly bouncing off of the page. Add the appeal of lifting flaps and you have books that small children will ask to have read to them again and again. Even more special is that the flaps are really part of the design of the books themselves. They are much more than just added appeal, instead they are inherent to the way the books function.
Great picks for libraries, but also equally great picks for holiday gifts for toddlers and preschoolers. Appropriate for ages 2-4, as long as they are past the board book phase and able to be gentle with pages.
Life-Size Farm by Teruyuki Komiya
This fourth in the “Life-Size” book series takes on farm animals in glorious full-size photographs. Just like the others in the series, there are panels that offer more detailed information, including the animals name, age, and scientific name. There are details about physical characteristics that are explained further as well as a list of facts. All of these are presented in bright colors and with a playful feel. But it is the photographs in their large size and with the clarity and detail that they offer that will have children taking this book home and lingering over it.
Several of the pages unfold to show even larger images of animals. The huge furry alpaca and the enormous cow will generate lots of interest. What is most amazing here is that the size of all of the animals is surprising and fun. Even better, the quality of the photographs is always high and offer lots of small details to pay attention to.
A great pick for library shelves, though the size is large enough to make them not fit on shelves easily! This is an excellent addition to a popular nonfiction series for children. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Seven Footer Kids.
Oh No! by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
A virtuoso picture book by two masters, this is bound to be a new favorite for toddler and preschool story times. The story begins with Frog falling into a deep hole. Oh no! Mouse came along and tried reaching down but she fell in too. Oh no! Loris slowly came down from her tree to help, but an allergy made her sneeze and you guessed it, she fell in too. Oh no! Sun Bear tried to help, Monkey swung by and fell in, and then Tiger reveals himself fully above. Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed him lurking from the very end papers right on through. He’s ready to pounce on this hole full of juicy animals. But wait! There’s one more animal headed for the hole! Oh yes!
Fleming has written such a simple and yet jaunty text here. It reads aloud so well, so vividly that there is no other way to read this book. The text doesn’t rhyme, instead it is filled with so much repetition and rhythm. There is the chorus of “Oh no!” that meets each animal as they tumble into the hole. But there are also words that repeat as each animal is introduced.
Rohmann did the illustrations as relief prints. They have bold lines, lithe animals, and lots of action. They also have that wonderful texture of prints that make them such a great choice for children’s books. The illustrations lift this book even higher.
Get your hands on this for your programs. I guarantee it will be part of your regular story rotation. It’s also a great pick for children’s reader theater. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.