Tag Archive: concepts


Chooky Doodle Doo by Jan Whiten

Chooky-Doodle-Doo by Jan Whiten, illustrated by Sinead Hanley (InfoSoup)

A fresh little counting book, this Australian import combines numbers with a jaunty rhyme. One little “chooky” chick is unable to pull a big worm out of the ground, so another chick tries to help. Three of them pull and pull then, and the worm just grows longer and longer. Eventually there are six chicks pulling and not able to get the worm out of the ground. Rooster joins them and helps to pull. They pull and pull, bracing themselves on the ground, until pop! The worm lets go and gives them all a big surprise.

Each page asks “What should chookies do?” and leads into the page turn where another chick has joined in helping. The next page then starts with the number of chicks pulling, making the counting element very clear for young readers. The text is simple and has a great rhythm to it. This picture book could easily be turned into a play for preschoolers to act out, since the actions are simple. The reveal at the end is very satisfying and make sure you look at the very final pages to see the smiling worm still happily in the dirt.

The illustrations are done in collage, both by hand and digital. The textures of the papers chosen for the collage offer a feeling of printmaking too, an organic style that works well with the subject matter. The chicks have huge eyes and are large on the page, making counting easy for the youngest listeners. The bright colors add to the appeal.

A great toddler read aloud for units on farms, this picture book will worm its way right into your heart. Appropriate for ages 2-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

Wild About Shapes by Jeremie Fischer

Wild about Shapes by Jeremie Fischer (InfoSoup)

A wonderfully simple idea, this book features abstract patterns on each facing page. Turn the clear plastic page with its abstract design so that it overlaps the first page and suddenly an animal is revealed. While some of the animals can be guessed from the designs or from the short text, many of them are complete surprises. Children will have to be paying close attention to spot some of the animals like the fish made from the white space on the page and the octopus that floats on another.

Spiral bound, this book is printed on card stock that will stand up to little hands. Even the acetate pages are strong and thick, limiting the amount of tearing that libraries will see. The text is very limited in the book, giving full attention to the clever illustrations. They are entirely playful and fun, the book less of a guessing game and more of art that you get to experience.

Children will want to turn the pages themselves, so that they are able to look back and forth between the abstract and the tangible on the page. So it’s best for sharing with only a few children at a time. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

in

In by Nikki McClure

It’s the perfect day to stay in, in your pajamas, inside the house, even hiding inside a basket with your toy giraffe.  A child plays that he is a rocket ship in space.  He puts milk in his tea and marmalade in popovers.  It’s all about being in for him.  But then he looks out the window and decides to play in the rain and in the puddles.  He wants to be out, outside, peeking out of branches.  He will even stay out at night with the owls.  In the end though, he is happy to head back in and get in bed in the warm house. 

Simply told and beautifully illustrated, this picture book explores the opposites of in and out in a poetic and vivid way.  Woven into the narrative, the words of in and out play against one another and even together to build the experience of a young child at play.  Every child will enjoy seeing how they too like the differences between in and out.

McClure’s illustrations are just as wonderful as always.  Done in paper cuts, they are detailed enough that one could mistake them for pen and ink at times.  The play of white and black against the sunny yellow is beautifully done with the yellow being sunshine, moonlight, and marmalade at times.

A day of play combined with the concepts of in and out will have toddlers and little ones inspired to spend their own days both in and out of the house.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams Appleseed.

you are not small

You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

An orange bear declares to a smaller blue bear that the shorter one is “small.”  The little one says that that is not true, rather the orange bear is “big.”  The orange bear shows that he has other big creatures just like him and just his size, but so does the blue bear.  The two groups start to argue and fight about whether they are big or small.  Then another creature arrives and another one yet that help put size into perspective for everyone. 

This very simple book has a great sense of humor throughout.  The creatures that seem like bears to me are fuzzy and friendly.  Against the white background, the bears pop on the page.  With only a few lines per page, this book will be enjoyed by small children learning about concepts like big and small.  The humor makes the entire lesson in size and relativity completely enjoyable and it will be a book that children will ask to be read again.  There is even a great little (or big) twist at the end.

Weyant’s illustrations are a large part of the appeal of the book.  The New Yorker cartoonist has created fuzzy creatures that are loveable and cute as can be, no matter what size they are.  Weyant has clearly loved playing with the differences in sizes, creating characters who live large on the page.

Bold illustrations, charming characters and funny situations make this a winning picture book for the smallest (and largest) among us.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC received from Two Lions.

Two by Tullet

Herve Tullet is one of the most innovative picture book authors around today.  I look forward to his books to see what he will come up with.  This year, we have two new books by him.

help we need a title

Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet

This first book is not quite ready to be read yet.  In fact, the characters inside are still getting ready.  There isn’t really a story, though they are looking for one.  And the characters themselves are rough sketches rather than lovely images.  In fact, the entire inside of the book is a mess.  Perhaps if we found an author?  But even that doesn’t help much, especially when the characters are disappointed in the story he creates for them.  Yet in the end, it is a book, with a story, some funny moments, and it even manages to tell readers how a book is created and what its elements are.

Quite clever, once you get past the rough illustrations and embrace them as part of the concept.  Tullet himself appears in the book, his photographed head and shoulders plunked onto a drawn body.  The entire book feel unfinished, but that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to feel.  This is a clever way to introduce young children to authors, writing, and how stories are crafted.

mix it up

Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet

Released September 16, 2014.

Following his clever Press Here, this book invites readers to touch the pages once again.  Except in this book, readers are mixing colors, mashing things together, combining things, and having a marvelous messy time.  Tullet excels at creating books that are immensely participatory despite having no flaps or pop ups.  It’s all in the readers’ imaginations and that’s such a wonderful thing.

I consider this one of the best picture books about color that I have ever seen.  Thanks to the feel of mixing the paints yourself, readers are left with a deeper understanding of color.  They will get to add white to colors and see what happens, and black as well.  They create secondary colors from primary ones and leave their own hands on the page too.  Clever, interactive and wildly imaginative, this is another winner from Tullet.

Both books are appropriate for ages 3-5 and both will be embraced by readers of all ages.

big bug

Big Bug by Henry Cole

Start with a close up of a ladybug in this picture book and then everything is put into perspective.  If you step back, the big bug on the first pages is not so big compared to the big leaf it is sitting on.  That leaf turns small when seen as just a part of a flower.  Then a big dog appears only to be dwarfed by the big cow on the next page.  This continues until the reader is looking at the big sky.  Then the book reverses and the perspective gets closer and tighter, returning in the end to that same dog now sleeping inside. 

This is a very simple book that is superbly done.  Cole plays nicely with perspective and with concepts.  The book can easily be used as a way to show the differences between big and small, but I think the real treat is showing children that perspective is important and understanding size is too.  With only a couple of words on each page, the book is imminently readable, especially by a child just starting to read on their own.

Cole’s art is clear and lovely.  The perspective changes are done vividly and the page where you linger with the big big sky for a moment is particularly lovely with its little farm and little tree.  It also serves as a very clear pivot point in the book thanks to the design of the page. 

Show this one to art teachers, preschool teachers, and kids who enjoy a huge insect.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Little Simon.

my blue is happy

My Blue Is Happy by Jessica Young, illustrated by Catia Chien

Colors can be seen in many different ways and the little girl in this picture book tends to see them very differently than her family and friends.  Her sister says that blue is sad, but for her blue is happy like favorite jeans or the swimming pool.  Her mother says yellow is cheery, but for her yellow is worried like a wilting flower.  Her father says brown is ordinary, but it is also the color of chocolate syrup so it’s special too.  Useful for color identifying, this book takes it a level deeper to the feelings that colors evoke in each of us.

Young has created something of a poem here in her prose.  She uses a format with repetitive structures, each new person and their reactions to colors a stanza and also a set of pages.  Within this strong format, the exploration of feelings is done with a confidence that will allow young readers to voice their own.  Young takes unusual reactions to colors and makes them concrete with her examples too. 

Chien’s illustrations have a wonderful softness to them that frees the imagination.  Filled with the color that is being discussed, the illustrations celebrate each color and invite thoughts from children listening to the book. 

A lovely take on colors, this picture book will lead to plenty of discussion and would be a great jumping off point for craft and art projects.  Appropriate for ages 4-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

is it big

Is It Big or Is It Little? by Claudia Rueda

Explore opposites and perspective in this little book.  It is the story of a mouse and a cat, who chase across the pages, changing the perspective the reader sees from on each page.  Is the ball of yarn big as seen by the mouse?  Or is it little when seen by the cat?  Deep water for the mouse becomes shallow when the cat heads in.  Light objects for the mouse are heavy for ants.  And even the most scary creature can also be scared themselves. 

Rueda’s text is done in simple questions that show the opposite concepts clearly.  The real draw of this book are the illustrations which have a minimalism that is very appealing.  Done entirely in grays, black and orange, the illustrations have a pop edge to them that is both graphically pleasing and has great touches of humor.

Bright and bold, this book approaches opposites and perspective with a clever storyline and elegant illustrations.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

i am blop

I Am Blop! by Herve Tullet

The author of Press Here returns with another simple and charming book.  Here the entire book is based around the shape of a “blop” which is something like a four-leafed clover, or a flower, or a butterfly.  With just a few words on each page, the youngest readers will discover a world of blops between these covers.  There are blops of different sizes, different colors, and they do a variety of things too.  Concepts are taught cleverly, such as mixing colors, what appears in a mirror, and opposites. 

While there are punch-out pages at the end of the book, this would still make a great pick for libraries to circulate.  I was particularly pleased with the mirror page and color mixing pages that add a special twist and fun to the book. 

Another great pick from Tullet, this book belongs in library collections and would make a great toddler read.  Expect to be drawing and seeing blops afterwards!  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

round is a tortilla

Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parra

Explore shapes with two young members of a Mexican-American family.  The book begins with circles as they are seen in nests, bells, and food.  Readers will also get to find squares, rectangles, triangles, ovals, and stars.  Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the book and engagingly explained within the context.  There is also a glossary at the end of the book to help.  This is an engaging look at shapes with a charming Mexican vibe.

Done in rhyming couplets, the book has a strong lilting rhythm and reads aloud easily.  The writing is strong and never suffers from the structure of the rhymes.  Thong invites us into their home where we are made to feel welcome throughout the book.  It is a warmly written book about shapes that has an additional dimension with the Spanish words.

Parra’s illustrations have a wonderful texture to them, often looking like traditional art and aging painted walls.  They add even more warmth and character to this already rich book.

This is an enjoyable and simple look at shapes and Spanish that invites the reader to learn and to try new words.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

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