Giraffe Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith (9781524772048)
Edward the giraffe hates his long neck. It’s ridiculously long and bendy. There’s no other animal with a neck like his and he just wishes it was more normal. He has tried hiding his neck under scarves and bushes, high water and trees, but nothing works. All of the other animals just stare at him, noticing his neck all of the time. Then one evening, Edward meets Cyrus, a turtle. Cyrus loves Edward’s long bendy neck and asks for Edward’s help in fetching a high banana from a tree. The two end up praising each other’s necks and figuring out that a different perspective is very helpful, particularly if bow ties are involved.
From the team that created Penguin Problems, this picture book has a great mix of humor and empathy. The writing is pitch perfect, told in the voices of Edward and Cyrus directly. Edward’s worries about his neck are presented in a conversational tone that begs to be shared aloud. Cyrus’ voice is entirely different, offering lengthy monologues about bananas but then shifting to become conversational too.
Smith’s art is textural with graphical elements that are compelling. The characters stand out strongly against the light background that hints at bright sun. Visual humor adds to the silliness of the book, creating just the right balance. The book uses different page turns and perspectives that make for a dynamic read.
A great read-aloud pick for any stories about self-esteem or giraffes. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Random House Books for Young Readers.
Heads and Tails by Carli Davidson (9781452151373, Amazon)
This is the best of three books in a board book series that focuses on photographs of dogs. This very simple board book goes through body parts of dogs from eyes to teeth to tails. Each body part is shown in two ways, one very tight close up and then a full picture of the dog from farther away. It’s a book that invites pointing to lots of things and talking about them.
So Many Feet by Nichole Mara, illustrated by Alexander Vidal (9781419723186, Amazon)
A look at the feet of many different animals shows how widely different animals and habitats are. A touch of information is shared for each animal, just enough for the youngest scientist. The illustrations are bright and bold, embracing the colors and feeling of each habitat and showing the animal using their feet to explore their world. The book ends with children thinking about what their own feet can do.
Tickly Toes by Susan Hood, illustrated by Stephane Barroux
This playful board book looks at infants’ interest in their own toes, whether it is when they are being tickled by someone else, or when they see them in the bubbly bath water. Written as if a parent is addressing the baby directly, this book will read aloud well to the smallest of listeners. With illustrations that invite counting, this book is also an invitation to count baby’s own toes right now.
Hood avoids being too sing-songy in her rhyme, instead keeping it jaunty. Even when baby pulls of his booties and flings them away, the tone remains entirely positive and encouraging as baby finds his feet all on his own. The illustrations by Barroux are bright and large. They show the ten toes on many pages as well as a loving family environment around him.
Get your toes wiggling with this bright and bouncy board book. Appropriate for ages birth to 2.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Kids Can Press and NetGalley.
Henry’s Hand by Ross MacDonald
Get ready for a perfect non-Halloween Halloween book! Henry is a monster who often loses bits and pieces of himself. So every morning he goes through a little rhyme to make sure that all of his pieces are there. Henry’s right hand was his favorite body part. They played games together and traveled everywhere together. Then Henry got lazy and started using his right hand to do all of the chores that he didn’t want to do himself. Hand got more and more upset until finally, he just left. Hand was off to the big city on his own and Henry was left behind, knowing that it was all his fault. But how do you apologize to someone who has already left? And how do you know they are OK and not hurt? Henry had to figure out not only how to live without his right hand, but how to get him back.
MacDonald has written a wonderfully original book that is unafraid of being wildly wacky. Behind that wild premise though is a book with plenty of heart. It is a story of real friendship, the loss of a best friend, and finding a way back to reunite. MacDonald has a nice feel for pacing and drama, peppering his book with plenty of action.
This is a book set in a world that has a vintage feel about it, the city is filled with early century vehicles and technology. Henry himself is an homage to the monsters of that time, yet he is also completely friendly and nonthreatening.
Add this to your Halloween reads, monster story times, and units on body parts and friendship. It is sure to come in handy! Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Abrams Books for Young Readers.
Who Has What? All About Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
Have a child asking about their body and the ways that boys and girls are different? Here is a picture book for younger children that answers those questions clearly, simply and with a great matter-of-fact tone. Told through a family trip to the beach, the book starts with the child characters having questions themselves. Emphasis is placed on the fact that boys and girls are mostly the same in their bodies. They both love to play, love to laugh, but they do have some body parts that are different. Even then, most of their body parts are the same. As the children move into the changing rooms, the different body parts are shown and defined. The book covers both the external organs and the internal ones. As always, Harris presents the information with clarity and makes it easy to understand.
This book is appropriate for preschoolers who are asking questions about their bodies. The answers here cover the body parts only. No sexual explanations are given in this book about how babies are made or arrive. It’s a great early lesson in bodies that speaks to the questions children that age have.
Westcott’s illustrations are charming and factual, nicely combining clear images of the body parts but also having an inviting cartoon feel. The addition of the dogs in the dressing rooms and when talking about general body parts will also help answer questions that children have about pets. It’s another way that this book is clearly designed for this specific age group.
Ideal for families looking for clear information to share with their children, this book belongs in every public library. Appropriate for ages 4-8.
Reviewed from library copy.
Heads by Matthew Van Fleet
I am a huge fan of Van Fleet and his mix of clever tabs with very humorous touches. Perfect for small hands, his books withstand a lot of play from the smallest children. This book follows his Tails book. Here the rollicking rhyme takes readers from one type of head to another. It features heads to touch, like the woolly and hairy heads. It also takes a funny look at necks, ears, mouths, tongues, noses and eyes. A great introduction to the various body parts, what sets this book apart are the pull tabs that bring the illustrations to life. The terrific part is that even the most jaded adults will be surprised at the artistry and humor here.
Van Fleet excels at writing words that flow and dance in a jaunty jig. His text can be read aloud effortlessly. His art is cartoony, silly and even the parts that don’t move have small humorous touches to watch for.
Ideal for a birthday or holiday present for any toddler, this book is a treat. The only problem is figuring out which child gets to pull the next pull tab! Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.
All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang
A small child thanks each body part for how well they work. Fine feet hold you up, hands can grab and hold, arms to hug, mouth, eyes, nose, ears, and heart. Each bit of us is constantly supporting our life, allowing us to do what we need to do. Every day we feel so many different things, do so many different things. And in the end? We are part of the universe and alive!
Bang’s art is so beautiful and simple here. The end pages of the book feature some of her work space and then some ideas for children to start creating their own illustrations and books. The book features felt, crayon, paint, and most importantly for its inherent feel: brown paper bags. The brown paper creates a very organic feel to the book that works brilliantly with the subject.
Her words are simple too, allowing children to really think about what each of their body parts does. They will also realize how important each of these small functions are to their days and lives. Bang approaches all of this with a sense of joy and playfulness that is echoed in the art.
For parents who are practicing mindfulness or daily gratitude, this book is the perfect way to get your children thinking in a positive way about small, basic parts of their lives. Appropriate for ages 2-5.
Reviewed from library copy.