Peanut & Fifi Have a Ball by Randall de Seve, illustrated by Paul Schmid
Peanut had a brand new ball. It was blue and special. But Fifi wanted to play with the ball too. She tried grabbing it away from Peanut, and she tried being polite and asking “Please.” But Peanut would not share it. Then Fifi got creative and started coming up with ideas of how they could play with the ball. It could wear a hat. It could be a crystal ball and Fifi could tell fortunes. It could be bread dough and Fifi could be a chef. This book about sharing as siblings ends with a believable twist that is clever and satisfying.
De Seve’s text really comes alive when Fifi starts to imagine what she can do with the ball. He is consistently simple and clear throughout, allowing the story to play out with a natural rhythm and flow. The pacing is nicely done as well, allowing both sisters to have their space to think and react.
Schmid’s art is what makes this book really stand out. His hip and modern visual style uses strong black lines and tropical colors. In just a few lines, Schmid manages to convey a character’s mood clearly but not in an over-the-top manner. His art is simple and very effective.
A great pick for toddlers and early preschoolers that would make a nice addition to story times or book lists about sharing. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
The Bear series by Karma Wilson continues to impress with its latest entry. There are only a few children’s picture book series that have maintained the quality of both writing and illustration as this series has. In this latest tale, Bear has an idea to create a big feast and invite his friends over to share. The only problem is that Bear has nothing in his cupboard at all. Mouse shows up with a pie to share, and Bear says “Thanks!” Bear continues to fret that he has nothing to share when Hare pops by with a batch of muffins to share. Badger then arrives with fish, Gopher and Mole bring warm honey nuts, and Owl, Raven and Wren have herbs for tea and pears to munch. But with no food to offer at all, what in the world can Bear give his friends?
I’ve always enjoyed the rhythm of this series and the repetition that makes them ideal to read aloud to toddlers. There is also a wonderful friendly warmth to the books, captured both by the colors of the illustrations and the story itself. That same warmth is here, friends offering food and sharing time with one another with no expectations. Chapman’s illustrations stay true to the series, offering pictures large enough to share with a group.
While this book is perfect for Thanksgiving story times, I’d also use it throughout the year when talking about sharing. This is a bear’s den that any of us would love to crawl into and spend some time in no matter what time of year it is. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Perfect for spring and Valentine’s Day, this book celebrates the way that love can grow. A little girl plants a kiss in the ground using a shovel and watering can. Then she gives it sun, water and attention. For awhile she doubts if it is going to grow into anything, but then there is a sprout of glittery yellow and pink emerging from the ground. Others gather around and she decides to share it, she hands out glowing yellow and pink wisps to everyone, even though others try to warn her that it is too rare and precious to share. When she runs out, she heads back to her plant where she discovers that there is even more to give away!
When glitter is added to a book, it does a lot to create immediate appeal. Unfortunately, many glitter-filled books don’t live up to that shimmery hype. This one though is one that is designed to share, just like the kiss itself. Rosenthal’s writing is light, airy and offers just a few words per page. While her message of sharing love is clear, there is nothing preachy about the book, thanks to the cheery writing.
Reynolds’ art has that same light feel, including the wafting glittery clouds of kiss. His young protagonist has a great quirky quality to her. The glitter is incorporated into the story very successfully, adding to the book rather than distracting from it.
The perfect snuggling book for the little one that you plant kisses on. Appropriate for ages 3-5 and could be used as a gift for adults as well.
Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Daisy, the dog, adores her red ball. She plays with it and even sleeps next to it on the couch. When her owner takes her for a walk, Daisy brings along her ball. At the park, she plays and chases after it. When it gets stuck behind a fence, Daisy frets until it has been retrieved by her owner. But when another dog tries to play with Daisy’s ball… it pops! Daisy is broken-hearted, carrying the tattered remains of her ball. And there is nothing that will make her feel any better. Or is there?
This wordless book works because of the gorgeous illustrations. Daisy is a black-and-white dog and her world is colorful and bright. From the bright red of her ball to the striped couch in green, the book embraces color. Raschka also uses color to convey emotion, which is particularly effective when the air itself is colored with purples and blues after Daisy’s ball is popped. Before that, the background was done in pale blues and yellows, light and airy, even playful.
The storyline is clear with the illustrations filling double page spreads or broken into panels. Children will immediately relate to Daisy’s loss of a favorite toy and to her emotions throughout. It is a book that naturally leads to discussion of when the child lost something, or something was broken, and the way that they felt about it.
A winning wordless read, this book is a joy to share with children or perhaps with your favorite furry friend. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
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The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner
Norris, the bear, knew that the plorringes were the best fruits. So he waited under the plorringe tree because he knew something special was going to happen. Tulip and Violet, a mouse and a raccoon, knew that plorringes were the best too. They were able to climb up in the tree to get closer to the single hanging plorringe. They could see how delicious it looked and smell its delicious scent. They listened to it and hugged it too. They were just about to lick it when it fell off of the tree and down right onto Norris’ head. Now Norris was closest to the plorringe and had it all to himself. But just as Norris was patient, he was also a very nice bear. The type of bear who would not only share but would make some new friends doing it.
The story here is one that has been shared in many picture books. Rayner’s writing has a gentle repetition that is almost not noticeable. She has a playfulness and a warmth to her writing that makes it a pleasure to read aloud.
It is the illustrations that make this book something extraordinary. There is the brawny brown of the bear done in overlapping paint that show his girth and weight, but also his sturdiness and steadiness. Then the raccoon is a mash of black and grays, blending and merrily mixing, capturing the dynamic movements. The mouse is all delicate line and a whisper of pink expression for the tail. The plorringe is yellows, reds and pinks, a mix of mango, plum, and guava.
A book about sharing and friendship that will be loved due to the illustrations. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.
Mine! by Shutta Crum, illustrated by Patrice Barton
One of only two words used in this picture book about sharing is “mine” and it is said again and again. A toddler is visited by a baby, and carefully gathers up his toys before the littler one can get her hands on them. With each grab, he announces “mine.” His arms fill up with toys, so the baby grabs the last toy on the floor, forcing the toddler to drop all of the others. Now the puppy gets in on the game, grabbing and chewing on a ball that bounces his way. While the toddler tries to get the ball away from the dog, the baby tosses her toy into the dog’s water dish. Just when the story seems poised for a tantrum, the joy of playing in water together saves the day.
This adorable little book has a great sense of playfulness. Even when the little boy is gathering his toys up, there is no sense of malice in his actions. I appreciated that the story does have parents hovering at the edge of the story, but they are uninvolved in the action and the sharing in the end. Instead, this is a resolution entirely reached by the children themselves.
Baron’s art has a soft color palette that adds warmth and ease to the story. She captures facial expressions particularly well, on both the children and the puppy. There is a sense of absolute joy at times, often juxtaposed with amazement on the face of another character. She also renders toddlers and babies well, with their rounded features and limbs looking particularly plump and adorable. The action is readily followed with the dotted lines that show the motion of toys from one person or place to the next.
A charming book about sharing that doesn’t have any lecture built in at all, this one is a winner for toddlers. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from library copy.
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I Must Have Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
When Willy wakes up, he can’t find his beloved sock monkey, Bobo. Willy needs Bobo to get through his day. But Earl the cat likes Bobo too. Willy takes Bobo away from Earl and heads off to breakfast. But whenever Willy is distracted or busy, Earl sneaks in and grabs Bobo, carrying him off. Willy searches high and low for Bobo, finally realizing that it must be either pirates or Earl who has taken the toy. The book ends with a cuddle between the three of them, curled up and happy together. Or are they?
This book is silly and great fun. The ending has a gentle twist to it, that will delight young listeners. It will work well with a group, since it has plenty of emotion to portray, lots of laughs, and a sharing theme that children can relate to easily. The illustrations work well with the simple text. They have a great warmth to them, thanks to the creamy background and the rough edges. Additionally, the book has a timeless appeal, but remains modern as well.
Recommended for cat or toy story times, this book is a pleasure to read and share. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
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Ribbit Rabbit by Candace Ryan, illustrated by Mike Lowery
Frog and Bunny are the best of friend. They swim together. Fight monsters together. Even share peanut butter sandwiches. But sometimes something happens and they stop getting along. Like when they find a robot with a key. One of them ends up with the robot, the other with the key. And they don’t want to share. After a bit of alone time though, they come together ready to share and have fun once again.
Ryan’s text is such fun to read aloud. It trips, gallops, dashes and dances on the tongue. The rhythm of the book is a delight and the silly rhymes add joy to the book. It is impossible to read it without grinning.
Lowery’s illustrations have a wonderful modern, fresh feel to them. Done in pencil, screen printing and print gocco, they are finished digitally. They have a simplicity that works well here. The soft colors have an intriguing pop to them and the texture from the screen printing adds to the appeal.
Highly recommended, this is a top choice for toddler and preschool story times. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from ARC received from Bloomsbury.
Also reviewed by The Bookbag and Young Readers.
Banana! by Ed Vere
Told in just two words, this book is perfect for very young listeners. One monkey in a blue striped shirt has a banana. Another monkey in a red striped shirt enters the book and sees the banana. He asks for it. The monkey with the banana refuses. The red striped monkey gets angry and then throws a temper tantrum, shouting “Banana!” all the while. Finally, the monkey says “Please” and the banana is shared. Or is it?
Vere does so much with just facial expressions in this book. For a person reading it aloud, there is no question what tone of voice should be used from one “banana” to the next. The simplicity is impressive, the clarity even more so. The rough-edged illustrations are goofy and very friendly as are the bold bright backgrounds.
With a cover that is sure to make it fly off the shelves, this is a book that toddlers will love. Get ready to read the word banana again and again. Appropriate for ages 2-3.
Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt.
Broom, Zoom! by Caron Lee Cohen, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
What is to be done when Little Witch and Little Monster both need to use one broom at the same time? Little Witch notices the full moon and heads inside for the broom. Little Monster needs to use it right then. Little Witch still wants the broom, but when Little Monster shows her the mess, she lets him use it first. She even helps him clean things up. Now it’s Little Witch’s turn to use the broom to fly in the sky. She invites Little Monster to fly with her, though he’s not really sure he wants to fly at all.
Told in very brief text that is entirely conversation, this book is a winner for young children. Spare and minimal, the text still manages to tell a clear story about sharing and taking turns. Yet it never becomes didactic at all. Ruzzier’s illustrations are bright, clear and vibrantly colored. There is no white space here, just a saturated palette that makes for a compelling visual.
Highly recommended, this is a very sweet Halloween story that is sure to appeal to toddlers who are looking for monsters and witches with no scare. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from book received from Simon & Schuster.