Flight 1-2-3 by Maria van Lieshout
Take a ride on a plane in this follow-up to Backseat A-B-See! The trip begins with a cab ride to the airport and asks readers what they see. There is 1 airport, 2 luggage carts, 3 check-in desks, and the book progresses to very large numbers, like 100 passengers and 33,000 feet. Van Lieshout uses all of the official signage you see around the airport to inspire her art. Those signs are on each page, right next to the numbers to help with counting. The characters too have a graphic, sign-like quality to them, though the main family has its own quirks like yellow tennis shoes and hair in a black ponytail.
With minimal text and art that is a playful look at official signage, this counting book will appeal to kids who love planes and also to those heading out on their first plane trip. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.
Everything Goes in the Air by Brian Biggs
Brian Biggs has several new books out which is great news for youngsters who love cars, trucks and airplanes. Everything Goes in the Air takes Henry and his family on an airplane ride. Readers get to visit a bustling airport, where they can search for lost babies. From vintage airplanes to modern ones, we learn about the different parts of a place and the various types they come in. Modern airport security is explained, then the book turns to helicopters and hot air balloons. Just before takeoff, children get to see inside the cockpit and marvel at the crowded airspace. Then it’s up, up and away!
Biggs’ crowded pages show the hustle and hurry of an airport. His friendly art and seek-and-find activities will keep children busy exploring the pages. Information is given in small bits, mostly through conversations that are shown in cartoon bubbles. This is a marvelously fun and exciting way to explore airplanes and airports.
A great pick for a plane ride, or to help prepare children for an upcoming flight, this book has such detailed illustrations that it is best shared with just one child at a time. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Everything Goes: 123 Beep Beep Beep!: A Counting Book by Brian Biggs
Everything Goes: Stop! Go!: A Book of Opposites by Brian Biggs
These two board books simplify the busy style of Biggs into books that are more appropriate for toddlers. Here the bright colors and cartoon-style illustrations pop. The counting book goes up to ten, each page offering a different sort of vehicle to count. They range from RVs to busses. The opposites book again uses vehicles to show things like dirty and clean, old and new, ending with stop and go.
Very young children who enjoy cars, trucks and other vehicles will love these board books. Expect the basic text to be accompanied with lots of motor sounds from the audience! Appropriate for ages 1-3.
All items reviewed from copies received from Balzer + Bray.
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.
How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti, illustrated by Yancey Labat
Released in April 2012.
I cannot count how many dismal number and math books I have read over the years. I’m lucky enough to have a mathematical kid, but finding books that he would enjoy was painful. Many math books are a lot more about concept than about being fun to read. Well, not this one! This one winningly mixes math with candy, so that even non-mathematical kids will give it a try. Aiden and Emma are just like most siblings, they are trying to get more than each other. So when Emma asks for 10 jelly beans, Aiden asks for 20! And the number just keep climbing from there. Soon, they are up to 500 jelly beans, which may be way too many to eat. But how about 1000 or 5000 or 10,000 in a year? The jelly beans get smaller and smaller until the final number of 1 million is reached only be an enormous fold-out page.
This visual sweet treat will get children able to truly visualize what the difference between thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and a million are. The art by Labat done in black and white with only the jelly beans for tantalizing color really works. The focus is on the candy and the number. Menotti nicely inserts division into the conversation too, when the children debate how many jelly beans they could eat in a year.
I can see this over-sized book inspiring lots of counting, adding, dividing and multiplying in families, or it is also a very sweet book to share with your number-loving kid. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
An aside just for librarians, please don’t put this in the remoteness of the nonfiction section with your math books. Let it enjoy being taken home as a yummy picture book with a jelly bean and math center.
Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.
American Modern Books shared two new board books that are coming out in September. Both have a modern art vibe that is captivating:
Colors by Charley Harper
This is the third board book by Harper and follows his alphabet and counting books. Here the colors correspond to animals and natural colors in the illustrations. There are red birds, blue water, orange leaves, and a yellow moon. There are also some more man-made items in the book like fire hydrants, cars and hats. The design here is very successful with the small size of the board book format creating a very nice frame around the illustrations. There is also a lot of variety in the images, though all are thoroughly modern.
Counting in the Garden by Emily Hruby, illustrated by Patrick Hruby
This counting book counts visually as well as in the text of the book. Steadily count from 1 to 12 with items from the garden. After each new number is counted, readers turn the page to see that item added to the garden. What starts as a green and brown, but fairly open and plain field becomes robust and crowded with plants. The illustrations are strong with plenty of color and lots of energy. They have modern lines and are very clean and clear.
These two books are sure to please parents looking for books that they too will enjoy reading again and again.
Reviewed from copies received from AMMO.
Let’s Count Goats! by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jan Thomas
A manic and very funny counting book that will have readers laughing at the antics of the goats that they are trying to count. Can you count the single seaside goat? How about the goats buzzing by in airplanes? How about the loud trumpet goats? Or the ones in the snow? The talents of Mem Fox and Jan Thomas are delightfully displayed here in one of the top counting books of the year.
Some counting books suffer from trying to maintain counting on each and every page. Part of the success of this book is that Fox has written other silly goats into the book that do not needed to be counted. So the book has a nice flow that really works well. It feels much more like a picture book than a counting book. Fox’s rhymes are simple, offering Thomas a grand place to build from with her illustrations. Thomas takes innocent words and transforms them into scenes where her goats munch on the props. The book is filled with goats doing all sorts of things, drawn in Thomas’ wonderfully simple style that children will immediately relate to.
Highly recommended, this is a counting book that could be used very successfully in a story time. The illustrations are large enough to work with a group and the text is readable as well. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.
Also reviewed by A Year of Reading.
One Drowsy Dragon by Ethan Long
One sleepy dragon wants to get some sleep, but his little dragons are making too much noise. In this rhyming counting book, readers will find one dragon after another making all sorts of noises. There is marching, dancing, screaming, jamming in a band, and much more. Throughout, the adult dragon becomes more and more frazzled and exhausted until the end of the book when the ten little dragons are tired too and ready for bed. But then the adult dragon is making so much noise snoring that they can’t get to sleep!
Filled with great sounds to make when reading aloud, this book is ideal for a pajama party. It has a jaunty rhyme with plenty of shouting from the frustrated dragon adding to the frenzy. The illustrations add even more appeal to the book with their bright colors and humor. Just the look on the adult dragon’s face will having readers giggling as well as how oblivious the young dragons are to the situation.
Bright and funny, this is a great counting book combined with dragon appeal and a bedtime theme. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.
One Pup’s Up by Marsha Wilson Chall, illustrated by Henry Cole
Count along to ten with adorable puppies in this picture book. It all starts when one puppy wakes up, then more puppies join in on the fun. They tumble, roll, drink, piddle, chase, and much more. Another puppy joins in the fray with each new activity until dinner time. Then they slowly head to sleep, one at a time, counting down until they are all asleep. Of course, then it starts again the second one pup is up.
A very simple premise and simply told story, this book is filled with toddler appeal. The ease of the story along with its galloping rhyme and rhythm make it irresistible. Chall’s grace with so few words is evident on each page, allowing the images to tell the story. Cole’s puppies are playful balls of fun, that young readers will be drawn to and relate to. The illustrations are wonderfully large and bright with plenty of white space, making them ideal for use with a group.
Get those toddlers counting with these puppies and be ready for giggles when the piddle line appears. A delightful, light-hearted counting book appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from McElderry Books.
Cats’ Night Out by Caroline Stutson, illustrated by J. Klassen
A clowder of cats fill the pages here, counted up one by one all the way to twenty. (Don’t you love the term “clowder" for a group of cats? It’s very appropriate here because it sounds so much like “louder.”) On each page, the cats appear in different dance costumes and a different type of dance is shown. Line dancing with rhinestones, tangoing in red capes, and polkaing in flip-flops are just some of the great matchups of costume and dance. The cats dance until the people in the apartment buildings can’t take the noise anymore. Readers will love dancing to dawn with these delightful felines.
Stutson has created a counting book that is a pleasure to read aloud. Her rhymes are unforced and natural, with the vowels rhyming but rarely the full word, creating a more flowing verse. The illustrations take this book to another level. Done in subtle browns and grays, the setting is clearly urban and has the feel of an intimate club that morphs into an almost Broadway show effect as the cats become more numerous. Klassen evokes a timeless feel with her illustrations but they are definitely modern with a hip, suave tone perfect for these confident dancers.
Highly recommended, this book is one of the hippest counting books to come along. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.
Frankie Works the Night Shift by Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Jennifer Taylor
Frankie the cat, works during the night at the hardware store. Counting from one to ten, he cleans counters, waters plans, climbs ladders, and then spots a mouse! Dashing headlong through the store, he wakes up the entire family who are trying to sleep. By the time he has chased the mouse off the premises, it is almost morning. He may work the night shift, but he naps during the day. So the book ends with ten huge yawns.
Peters writing is straightforward and easy to read aloud. She has created a counting book with plenty of action which is unusual. Additionally, her writing keeps the book from becoming sing-songy because each counting page is phrased differently. Nicely done.
Taylor’s illustrations really take this book to another level. The first pages of the city street had me hunkered over the page and delighting in the small details. Then I had to know what medium she used to create the photographically clear but whimsically created images. Her use of digital photography has created an intriguing look and feel that is never disjointed. Beautifully rendered, I hope to see more from this debut book illustrator.
A counting book filled with gorgeous images and friendly text, this book with its furry and busy main character will delight young readers. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.