Tag Archive: toddlers


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.

sleepyheads

Sleepyheads by Sandra J. Howatt, illustratedc by Joyce Wan

Head out on a journey in the night to find out where different creatures are sleeping.  Each one is tucked into the space they like best at bedtime.  There is the bear in his cave, the otter rocking back in the water, the pig in the hay, and many more.  Then the owl is on the page, not sleepy at all.  The book then turns to the house and the pets sleeping, but the little human bed is empty!  Where can that last little sleepyhead be?  Safe asleep in Mama’s arms. 

Simple and beautiful, this book has a gentle rhyme that soothes also with a rhythm that is like rocking to sleep.  Young listeners will get to identify the different animals as the pages turn, since the book leaves that up to the reader.  The quiet mystery of where the last sleepyhead is found is a wonderful little twist at the end, just right as children snuggle down to their own beds.

Wan’s art is dark and beautiful.  The night is lit with fireflies and the moon, the darkness deep and velvety but not frightening at all.  As the reader visits each dark page, there is always a source of light beyond that in the sky so that the characters themselves shine on the page. 

A wonderful bedtime read, this one shines with moonlight and dreams.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

swim duck swim

Swim, Duck, Swim! by Susan Lurie, illustrated by Murray Head

Told in rhyme, this picture book illustrated with large photographs explores one day in the life of a duckling who just won’t get into the water.  His parents are with him, encouraging him to try and so are all of the other fuzzy ducklings that are already swimming around.  But he is not sure that swimming is for him.  He might sink!  He hates to be wet!  And this might just be the perfect time for a nap. But with his parents encouraging him to keep on trying, there is suddenly a splash and he is swimming around merry and proud. 

Lurie’s rhymes have just the right amount of bounce and energy.  She captures the obstinate toddler who just won’t do what his parents are pushing him to try.  Children and parents alike will relate to this battle of wills where patient and positive parenting wins out in the end.  The text is simple and jaunty, keeping the duckling clearly an animal but giving words and emotions to his actions.

I’m a huge fan of photographs in children’s picture books.  Particularly when they are done as beautifully as Head’s.  The large format of all of the illustrations works beautifully, and I appreciate that they run all the way to the edge of the page rather than being framed in white.  The effect is an expansive one, these are pictures that pull you in until you too are pond-side and cheering on the duckling.

A great pick for kids heading to their first swimming lessons, this book would also make a nice addition to story times on ducks or trying something new.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

pom pim

Pom and Pim by Lena and Olaf Landstrom

When Pom heads outside, the sun is shining and the day is beautiful.  Pim, a stuffed toy, goes out too.  But the day isn’t completely full of good luck, in fact Pom and Pim experience a lot of bad luck along the way.  Somehow though, these bad moments turn into good ones.  So when Pom falls down, there is money on the sidewalk and they get to have ice cream!  The ice cream gives Pom a tummy ache, but then there is a balloon in the room.  The balloon pops when Pom takes it outside, but it’s just in time to make a raincoat for Pim before the rain comes.  Then it’s a lovely rainy day.

Landstrom plays with optimism in this book.  Pom goes from merry to dejected in moments, just like any toddler, bouncing right back again with the next new distraction or change.  The story is very simply told with the illustrations telling much of Pom’s reaction to the described situations.  Pom is never given a gender, making this a book that will speak to all genders equally and children will see themselves reflected on the page. 

The illustrations clearly reflect Pom’s emotions, as Pom changes moods from one page to the next.  They are also wonderfully simple which fits into this story very nicely.   The result is a book for toddlers that they will understand and relate to.

Grab this one when looking at emotions with toddlers, its everyday events will be something that any child has probably experienced.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

count on the subway

Count on the Subway by Paul Dubois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

Told in a bouncy rhyme, this picture book counts its way through a trip on the New York City subway.  It starts with a mother and daughter heading down the steps into the subway and counting their one MetroCard.  They go down 2 flights and catch the 3.  Onward the story goes, merrily counting the turnstiles, the people, seats and stops.  Once the book reaches ten, it counts its way right back down again, ending when the pair climb there way up into the one and only Union Station. 

The rhyme here is completely infectious.  It bounces along, skips and dances.  It appears effortless and free and is very readable.  In fact, it is hard not to read it aloud.  The illustrations by Yaccarino show the main characters in full color while the others are one solid color and a black outline or just a colored outline.  It makes for a book that is bright and bold. 

Perfectly paced and brightly rhythmic, this counting book will be enjoyed by all sorts of children, not just the ones who have taken a subway before.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.

run dog

Run, Dog! by Cecile Boyer

One red ball and one yellow dog create lots of merry chaos in this picture book.  The dog chases the red ball from one scenario to the next, interacting with the people in the scene until finally one of them grabs the ball and throws it off the page.  The pages are filled with action thanks to a tiered page system where you turn on section of the page at a time and the scene changes along with it.  As the sections are turned, the ball bounces in different ways and the dog reacts making the people in the scene react too!

Near wordless, this book just has single words as the ball is thrown to the next page.  The illustrations are bright and pop off the page.  They are as simple as the words but are also very cleverly done.  The structure of the book creates a very dynamic feel and invites small hands to turn the pages to see what happens next.  There is a sense as one reads the book that the reader is the one setting the pace and creating the changes that unfold.

Very engaging, dynamic and great fun, this book is ideal for toddlers who are willing to be careful with the pages.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

i hatched

I Hatched! by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Jen Corace

An exuberant chick hatches from an egg and merrily dashes through his first day in this spring picture book.  The chick quickly discovers that it has long legs and can really run.  While running, he discovers a frog, water, worms and many other things in his environment.  He learns to sing as well as poop as his day continues.  In the evening after returning to the nest, he gets a surprise when another egg cracks open.  Now he can be the expert and show his new sister everything!  Maybe.

This book is pure bottled joy.  The little chick is wildly positive and vivacious.  He captures the delight of babies in their world and invites readers to see things with fresh eyes as well.  Esbaum makes it clear that he is a killdeer with his long legs, his song and the way he acts.  It’s a pleasure to see a book about a bird in a nest on the ground, running fast that is not about learning to fly but more about being an individual and safely learning new things.

Corace’s illustrations reflect the same cheery delight.  They celebrate the little bird’s markings, the challenge of hatching from an egg, and happily show all that he explores in his first day.  They have a lightness and humor about them too.

Toddlers will enjoy this book that mirrors their own enthusiasm.  Perfect for spring story times with little ones.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial.

little poems for tiny ears

Little Poems for Tiny Ears by Lin Oliver, illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Celebrate the wonder of babyhood and toddlerhood with this collection of poems ideal for the youngest listeners.  These poems document the small moments of a child’s early years, seeing these little things as exactly what they are: the foundation of the future.  So each moment is given a gravity by the poems but they are also entirely playful and fun.  There are poems about body parts like noses and tongues, poems about peekaboo and high chairs, poems about naps, others about baths.  Each is short, clever and just right for sharing aloud.

DePaola has illustrated the poems with his signature style, depicting children of all colors and nationalities.  His illustrations embrace the gentleness of the entire book with their soft and bright colors and clear demonstrations of love.

Get this on the shelves right next to Mother Goose, because what you have here is a new classic set of poetry for the little ones.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

Here are my top picks for recent board books, perfect for toddlers:

bedtime for chickies pottytime for chickies

Bedtime for Chickies by Janee Trasler

Pottytime for Chickies by Janee Trasler

This pair of board books introduces three small chicks who have problems falling asleep and using the potty correctly.   Trasler uses humor and other animals to make these books great fun to read.  Her artwork is particularly child-friendly and the Chickies themselves are naughty and silly, in the just the way small children would appreciate.  These are sure to be favorites at bedtime.

creature colors creature numbers

Creature Colors by Andrew Zuckerman

Creature Numbers by Andrew Zuckerman

Filled with crisp and clear photographs of animals against a white background, these books stand out visually in a crowded board book market.  The Colors book is the more successful of the two with the colors popping on each page.  The Numbers book is still well done and extends from counting individual animals to counting legs and fins as well.  Both books are strong additions to library and family collections. 

were going to the farmers market

We’re Going to the Farmers’ Market by Stefan Page

A bright and friendly visit to the Farmers’ Market, this is sure to start daydreams of warm summer days for those of us in northern climes.  The illustrations are colorful and evoke the delight of the market perfectly.  Wonderful for children who have a local farmers’ market and know the pleasure of visiting the different stalls, selecting veggies and heading home to cook and eat. 

you are my baby garden you are my baby ocean

You Are My Baby: Garden by Lorena Siminovich

You Are My Baby: Ocean by Lorena Siminovich

Both released March 25, 2014.

These are the third and fourth books in this board book series which pairs a larger board book with an inset small book.  The larger book has the images of the adults with the story, and the small book has the images and noises of the babies.  The pages turn independently and work best when you have small hands helping you.  Sturdy and with the fun aspect of mixing and matching, these books are beautifully designed with very accessible illustrations. 

leo loves baby time

Leo Loves Baby Time by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Ruth Hearson

A follow-up to the wonderful Lola series, this new book aims for a slightly younger audience.  It focuses on Lola’s little brother, Leo.  Leo loves going to Baby Time at the public library.  He gets to play games, sing lots of songs, play with animals and make friends.  The book also focuses on Leo getting ready to go.  He has breakfast, sits in his stroller and heads to the library.  Families who go to similar programs at their public library will enjoy seeing the familiar games and songs here.  Those who haven’t tried it yet, may be inspired to climb into their strollers and head on over.

As someone who works in a library, McQuinn clearly understands how programs for babies work.  She highlights all of the positive things that the programs do.  She also limits the words on the page to make this book ideal for very young children who are just heading to their first library programs.  Hearson’s illustrations have a cheery warmth to them that really capture children interacting in a program and connecting with one another too. 

Printed on sturdy pages, this book is safe to hand to very small children who are progressing past board books.  It would also be a great one to use with families just starting to use libraries in your community.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.

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