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.
Lucy and Henry Are Twins by Elizabeth Winthrop, illustrated by Jane Massey (InfoSoup)
Lucy and Henry are toddler twins who spend a merry day together. From waking up where Lucy is wide awake and Henry is slower to move to the way they come downstairs, the personalities of the two children are completely individual. Riding in strollers, the two go to the park where they both explore the different slides, swings and other equipment. Then the two play with a ball. Finally, they head back home again. Their busy day is filled with activity, play and the two of them exploring the world together.
Winthrop keeps this book at just the right level for busy toddlers. The book moves at a brisk pace, showing the different things the children are doing and moving quickly on to the next thing. The text rhymes, which adds to the jaunty feel of the book. The two children are shown equally, sometimes having fun and other times not. Nicely, Winthrop makes sure that each child is brave at times and more skittish at others and happy at times and grumpy at others. Both children are well rounded and believable.
Massey’s illustrations are bright and bold. The children are featured very closely with only the legs and arms of the parents ever in view. This keeps the children at the heart of the story. Interestingly, because the parents are never named or fully seen, this book will work well for gay and lesbian parents and grandparents to share aloud with their little ones.
A particularly strong book for toddlers, this one is not overly sweet and feels like a real outing with toddlers to the park. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from library copy.
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.
My Bike by Byron Barton (InfoSoup)
Tom rides his bicycle to work each day. On the way, he passes all sorts of other vehicles like cars, buses, and trucks. As he gets closer to work, he passes lots of people. Then he passes monkeys, acrobats, tigers, lions and elephants! Once he reaches the tent where he works, he changes into his costume and puts on his makeup. He heads into the circus ring as a clown, ready to do his act. Once he’s up on the tightrope, he hops aboard another mode of transportation, a unicycle.
This jolly picture book will appeal to fans of transportation books and circuses alike. Barton has written other classic titles in this series like My Car and My Bus. The book reviews the various parts of a bicycle and then through very simple sentences and words eventually reveals Tom’s job to the readers. The book is straight forward but cleverly done so that readers will wonder what his job is all along his route to work. The final panel of him riding off in his regular clothes and a clown nose is a great farewell.
Just as with the text, the illustrations are simple too. Done in Photoshop, the art is clean and bold, the colors bright and cheery. The transformation into a clown in handled well and Tom never turns creepy on the reader, instead keeping his friendly demeanor and appearance throughout. The final panel of him riding off in his regular clothes and a clown nose is a great farewell.
The simplicity of both the text and the illustrations make this a great pick for smaller children. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.
My Dog Is the Best by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Paul Schmid (InfoSoup)
A little boy adores his dog, despite the fact that the boy is full of energy and his dog…well, he’s not. When the boy offers the dog a ball, the dog dozes off. The boy then demonstrates the tricks his dog can do, like playing dead. His dog can also roll over, while sleeping. And even turn into a ball, still asleep. The plays tug of war, by lying on the boy’s blanket and not moving. And even chase, well, not really. The dog can do so many things, like listen to stories, provide a base for playing with toys and even blow bubbles when the bubble wand is put in front of his dozing face. In the end, the little boy gets sleepy and after a big hug falls asleep next to the dog. The dog wakes up and is ready to play now.
I loved this book with the patient sleeping dog who allows himself to be clambered over, played with, and piled on while he is sleeping. There is no sense ever that the dog is anything other than a very happy and willing partner to all of this. The boy is eager but also gentle, his imagination creating worlds where the dog is an active participant in his merry games. The ending is completely adorable with the boy asleep and the dog awake.
Schmid’s illustrations are just right for this book. Done in simple lines on pastel backgrounds, the illustrations show the lovely interplay between little boy and dog. The round dog makes a perfect foil for the active little boy, one a whirl of motion and the other almost motionless.
A book that celebrates having a pet as a small child and the incredible connection one develops. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Bulldozer’s Big Day by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann (InfoSoup)
Bulldozer is very excited as he heads to the construction site one morning. It’s his special day and he wants to invite all of the other bigger trucks to his party. So he asks them to guess what day it is. Digger says that the day is a scooping day and keeps on scooping dirt. Dump Truck says it’s a sifting day. Cement Mixer knows that it’s a stirring day. One after another, the different trucks insist that it’s just a normal day and they are doing what they always do. Bulldozer gets more and more dejected as the other trucks talk to him and is about to leave the construction site entirely when happy whistles start to blow and the trucks reveal their birthday surprise for him.
Fleming charmingly combines two deep loves of small children: trucks and birthdays. She engages just enough with each of the trucks, allowing young vehicle lovers time to enjoy each truck and what they do on a construction site. Children will feel for Bulldozer as his attempts to talk about his party are foiled by each truck. The pacing is well done and leads up to a greatly satisfying ending.
Rohmann’s thick-lined illustrations work particularly well here. His Bulldozer character reads as young and jaunty as he flies over the construction area without touching the ground. The other trucks are solid and dependable. They come off as very friendly but also busy, rather like parents who are distracted but kind. Rohmann presents the birthday reveal on one double page spread that is very joyful and lots of fun. Expect a cheer of joy from your listening audience.
Get this into the hands of toddlers who like trucks and who may be approaching a birthday of their own. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Wild! Bathtime by Courtney Dicmas
Wild! Bedtime by Courtney Dicmas
Wild! Mealtime by Courtney Dicmas
Wild! Playtime by Courtney Dicmas
Romping animal babies and zany humor combine to make this series a great pick for toddlers and infants.
Bathtime shows all sorts of different animals taking baths, cleaning faces and other parts of the body. The humor comes at the end with a mother pig looking dejectedly at her sleeping piglets who are all clean while she is dirty.
Bedtime invites everyone to curl up to sleep but some of the little animals are not quite ready yet. Grabbing your teddy has a different meaning here as does turning out the light. Clever little touches make this one that you will read again and again.
Mealtime has animals acting very much like toddlers. They want more to eat, eat too quickly, and even try to hide their peas. Once again clever matching of animals to phrases makes for fun reading.
Playtime is the ultimate romp of a book, showing lots of wrestling and movement. And the parents are all in for the fun, mostly.
This series will be appreciated by children who love animals and also little ones who may need an excuse to slow down and read a bit. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copies received from Child’s Play.
Three Little Peas by Marine Rivoal
Two little peas jump down from their pea plant to get some air. They head out on an adventure across the garden. They visit a cat, some snails, and even try out how it feels to be a flower or a different kind of plant. They go high and low, exploring together. But when they reach a frightening part of the garden filled with insects and animals, they try to run away. Then they find a safe place in the warm soil where they hide. Only to become a large pea plant of their own the next spring, and then one little pea jumps free, making it three little peas.
The story here is simple enough for a toddler to enjoy and they will love going on an adventure along with two charming green peas. The peas pop in their green on the page where everything else is black and white. But oh my, what a black and white world it is! Rivoal does her art using etching and the effect is beautifully layered, almost crystalline forms. The illustrations show below ground as well with rocks and other objects hidden there. Even the blades of grass are lovely in the attention to detail and their grace.
Stunningly lovely and unique illustrations elevate this simple picture book to something magnificent. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.