Wednesday by Anne Bertier
Little Round and Big Square are the best of friends. Every week on Wednesday, they get together to play their favorite game: one of them says a word and they both transform into it. Big Square starts with “butterfly” and the two of them change into butterflies, Big Square with sharp angles and Little Round with half circles. They go through “flower” and “mushroom” until Big Square gets carried away and starts naming lots of different things all at once, things that Little Round can’t shift into. Soon the friends are arguing, but just like with any friendship there are rough patches and they both have to figure out how to fix it.
Done in just two colors, the dot and the square and the many shapes they make pop on the page, the blue and orange contrasting vibrantly on the white background. It is the illustrations that tell the story here, and the strong style they are done in is striking. Children will immediately relate to both the square and the circle. They may not have faces, but they convey emotions clearly on the page from anger to exuberance to friendship.
Strong and vibrant, this picture book translated from the French, is a great pick for units on friendship or shapes. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.
Peek-a-Boo Bunny by Holly Surplice
Bunny and his friends are playing their favorite game, Hide-and-Seek! Bunny gets to seek first and all of his friends hide. He counts to ten. Then he bounces and rushes around, moving way too fast to notice the others hiding. As Bunny races from one page to the next, another friend is revealed in their hiding place on each page, making it a real game of hide-and-seek for the reader. Eventually, Bunny does slow down, but he still can’t find the hidden animals. Bunny sits down under a tree, saddened by not finding any of his friends. But don’t worry, they can find him!
A jolly picture book where the game is made real for the reader, Surplice infuses her book with humor but also with a gentleness toward Bunny too. The story itself is simple and linear, offering space for the illustrations to carry the full story for the reader.
The illustrations are lovely. They offer collages of cut paper grasses and flowers in a rainbow of colors that pop against the pastel backgrounds. Bunny and his friends all pop out as well with their firm lines dark against the flowing colors of the forest.
A sparkling spring pick, this book is great for preschoolers and toddlers. I could see it making a great board book too. Appropriate for ages 1-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers
A basketball court + a ball + two kids = the perfect sum to play horse! When two boys meet at the basketball court, they immediately invite one another to play horse or ghost. It’s the game where one person takes a shot and then the other person has to try to match the shot exactly. It starts out simply enough with a layup with your eyes closed, but watch where this game goes! Filled with a banter that challenges one another to seek an even wilder idea, the two boys quickly start to talk about shooting a basket from the roof of a neighboring building when standing on one toe. The Magellan shot takes it even further, with a jump across the ocean and around the world and a dunk with a tongue! That’s not the end of the game though, you will just have to read it to see the final play.
I love the playfulness of this book and the friendly tone of the banter between the two boys. The fact that not a single shot is actually thrown makes it very funny too. This is not a challenge about sports but about imagination and thinking outside the court. Myers writes with a feel for modern dialogue between teens that doesn’t resort to modern vernacular but instead has the perfect rhythm and posturing. Myers’ art is equally modern with lanky boys against bright colored backgrounds. He also mixes in photographs and builds collages that add texture and pattern.
Great fun to read, it will have you challenged to a game of horse as soon as you can find a court and a ball. My favorite shots were always with my eyes closed and backwards. How about you? Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Egmont.
Hide & Seek by Il Sung Na
The author of several lovely picture books returns with another beautiful book. This time readers are part of a game of hide and seek with jungle animals. Elephant offers to seek while the others hide. There is a slow count from one to ten as the animals search for places to hide. Giraffe opts for a tree to hide behind. Gorilla stands atop Tortoise’s shell like a statue. Elephant searches for everyone and one-by-one he finds them all, except for Chameleon. All of the animals finally have to give up and Chameleon reveals himself. Young readers can search for chameleon throughout the bright illustrations, participating in the game themselves.
The text here is fairly basic, allowing the game to create the pacing and story. The counting from one to ten creates an effective counting book that is nicely married to a hide and seek game that will challenge young children.
It is really the art that is special here, glowing with light from within and filled with bright colors. None of the animals are colored as expected. The elephant has vibrant ears in red with hearts. The giraffe is a fiery yellow with red. Tortoise is a rainbow of pattern and color. The trees themselves are topped with colorful clouds of leaves. It all creates a very dynamic and fanciful world.
Colorful counting and a game to play make this a great pick for lap sharing with your favorite toddler or preschooler. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.