Review: Who’s the Biggest? by Delphine Chedru

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Who’s the Biggest? by Delphine Chedru (9780500651490)

This is a very simple picture book that is all about size and teaches the concepts of bigger and smaller. The book focuses on which animal is bigger, comparing one to another. One each page, one of the animals declares “I am!” There are big things on the page like elephants and trees. Then there are also smaller objects like flowers and bees to compare. The book is just right for very small children to learn the concept in a positive and fast-paced way. As mentioned in the book, with a little creativity, the book can be read to say which one is smallest too.

Chedru’s text is simple, yet she plays with some of the phrases, making sure that each animal speaks in their own distinct way. The illustrations are strong and graphical with deep colors combined with bright ones that burst on the page. Even though the story has a strong structure, there are surprises on each page with the page turn.

A book worth exploring with toddlers. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Bountiful Board Books

Here are four new board books to enjoy with little ones:

Duck's Ditty by Kenneth Grahame

Duck’s Ditty by Kenneth Grahame (9781486713868)

From the song in The Wind in the Willows, this board book is a clever adaptation of the original that makes it just right for little listeners. The song and the book focus on the ducks dabbling in a pond. The ducks look for food and are very content with their quiet days spent along the riverbank. It’s a quiet book, celebrating contentment and simple pleasures. The book is a larger format of board book than many, making it very appealing. The illustrations have an organic feel, dappled with shade and sun and almost speckled with water drops. A great summer pick. (Reviewed from copy provided by Flowerpot Press.)

Little Truck by Taro Gomi

Little Truck by Taro Gomi (9781452163000)

Little Truck starts driving and is very fast. He passes bigger trucks as he goes. But when he comes to a very big hill, he slows way down and is almost unable to make it all the way up. It just takes a little help from that slower big truck to give him a nudge. Little Truck rushes off again, this time heading into a dark tunnel. But when only the big truck emerges from the dark, what has happened to Little Truck? This board book offers a wheeled version of what it is like to walk with an enthusiastic and energetic toddler. The book has plenty of action, an homage to The Little Engine That Could, and the danger of a dark tunnel. Exactly what little ones will love! (Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.)

Llamaphones by Janik Coat

Llamaphones by Janik Coat (9781419728273)

I am a big fan of this series and the third entry doesn’t disappoint at all. Here the book focuses on homophones and uses llamas on each page to demonstrate each word. There are lovely surprises inside like fairy sparkles, moving clock hands, and touch-and-feel pages. But it is the humor that carries the book, almost every page worthy of a smile if not a full guffaw. The book has art that is strong and graphic, making it something that would work with a group if you have time for them all to touch the pages. A great concept board book to share. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Wiggles by Claire Zucchelli-Romer

Wiggles by Claire Zucchelli-Romer (9781452164755)

This book offers places for little fingers to explore. It starts with a race track that scoops both pages and then becomes more and more complicated. Fingers dance and tap as the concepts of right and left are taught in a fun way. Fingers spin around spirals, they zigzag and hop, until finally all that is left to do is dance. Great fun to play with, the book teaches colors and even the littlest ones will love reading this with their adult. (Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.)

 

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray, illustrated by Brian Collier (InfoSoup)

Various shapes are shown in a vibrant urban city in this picture book. A young girl walks through the city, takes public transportation and notices shapes as she goes. There are the squares of boxes and trucks. Rectangles form glass on the skyscrapers, windows and benches. Triangles are flags and sails. Wheels are circles along with manhole covers. Musical instruments in a band show oval shapes in their drums and lights. Diamonds fly as kites and stars fill the night sky. The girl returns home to bed, just as the pigeon who took flight on the first page returns to her nest, both listening to the noises of the city around them.

This dynamic picture book celebrates the beauty of urban life, the movement and rush of it all, the variety you find there. Seen through the lens of finding shapes in real life, this picture book would be a great way to look outside your own windows and see shapes there too. The bright friendliness of the city streets makes for a refreshing picture book. The text reads as a poem, filled with rhymes and rhythms that match the city setting.

Collier’s illustrations are a gorgeous mix of media, incorporating collage in a way that makes the shapes stand out but also fit into the setting too. It’s very cleverly done. The little girl in the book is based on Collier’s own young daughter. Her face is filled with enthusiasm throughout the book, her attitude wonderfully contagious.

A beautiful, colorful and shape-ly book that celebrates urban life. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Review: Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt

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Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey (InfoSoup)

This playful picture book comes from the author of The Underneath and other novels for older children. This counting book does not move from one to twelve, but instead starts at three and allows a merry amount of counting along the way. Throughout the action is led by the crows who climb around on trees, sit on lines and find all sorts of treats to eat, including spicy ants. The story moves forward with counting until there are twelve crows who then discover one cat!

Appelt proves that she can be a very successful writer for any age of child with her first picture book. Her rhyme reads aloud so well that it’s impossible to read it silently to yourself. It has a great rhythm and buoyancy to it, giving the book a really dynamic energy and feel. I also enjoy a book that has counting in it, but isn’t solely a counting book. This one tells a full story in a cheery way and allows you to share it either as a story book or a concept book.

The illustrations truly make the book unique. Using light drawings with touches of red, the book pops. Readers may notice the one scarf-wearing crow who appears in each scene and then they can see what happens to the scarf after the cat appears. It’s a nice touch that may have some readers turning back to trace the scarf from the beginning of the book.

Bouncy, rhyming, fun and jaunty, this picture book has its own unique tone and feel that readers will appreciate. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Review: Little Green Peas by Keith Baker

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Little Green Peas: A Big Book of Color by Keith Baker

The peas return for their third book, this time focusing on colors.  Peas play on each page, surrounded by a specific color that also shows up in huge letters across the double page spread.  Told in rhyme, the colors are named and objects that are that color are named too.  Young readers can find those objects on the page.  Turn to the next and you get to see even more little green peas enjoying themselves with that color.  Then on to the next.  This colorful read has a great playfulness to it that will keep the youngest readers giggling as they learn their colors.

Baker knows just when his rhyme and structure have reached their limit and then turns it just slightly to make it fresh again.  His little peas are doing all sorts of things on the page and part of the fun of the book is lingering and just seeing what is happening to each little pea.  The illustrations are big and bold, the colors deep and strong.  Yet the little peas and their detailed big fun make this a book best shared one on one.

A great pick for learning colors, children will enjoy the little peas on each page.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: It’s an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall

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It’s an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall

Five little ants are woken up by the sound of rain outside their tree stump.  In order to figure out what is making the noise, they drill holes in the stump to look outside.  One ant explains that aardvarks are gray and sneaky, and of course hungry for ants!  But when they drill the first hole, they see orange not gray.  Perhaps it’s an orange aardvark come to eat them!  They drill another hole and that one shows blue, so they think it’s an orange aardvark wearing blue pajamas.  As they drill more holes, more colors are shown and their story about the orange aardvark gets more and more elaborate.  Savvy young readers will know what all of these colors mean, but the pleasure of this book is seeing just how silly the little ants become.

Hall is the author of My Heart Is Like a Zoo and continues to display his skill with bright colors, large formats and die cuts in this new title.  The mix of surprise, guessing and silliness makes this book great fun to read.  Add in identifying different colors and the book becomes almost a game to read aloud.  Even better, there is wonderful suspense with each page turn as the ants come up with their next spectacular speculation.

Done in large format and pops of bright colors, the illustrations have the same appeal as Lois Ehlert and Eric Carle with their sharp edges and cut paper format.  The die cuts are used just enough to make the book more suspenseful and fun.  They also all line up, consistent throughout the book.

A jolly picture book that is full of fun, this is a colorful and witty way to learn about colors and aardvarks.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.

Review: Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan A. Shea

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Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan A. Shea, illustrated by Tom Slaughter

This interactive and engaging book will have children eagerly answering the questions inside.  The book is all about whether something is alive or not, whether it will grow or not.  Told in rhyming sets of questions, the final rhyme and answer is hidden beneath another flip-out page that makes it into a guessing game for the rhyme.  So in the first pages, “If a ducking grows and becomes a duck, can a car grow and become…”  Turn the page and you find “a truck?”  The flaps also have die cut holes in them that add to the appeal.  It’s a game and a book that will intrigue and fascinate young readers.

A large part of the appeal of this book is the rhyming couplets that create the guessing game.  Pairing living creatures and inanimate objects make for an appealing educational book.  Adding the rhyming guessing game takes it to another level.  The rhymes have a great humor to them, and will have children giggling at the thought that a stool could grow into a a chair or a sweater into a coat.

Slaughter’s illustrations are bright and graphic.  Using bold color combinations and strong lines, the cut-paper illustrations are very effective.  They have an colorful and inviting tone that is modern and striking.

Ideal for classroom use or in any library, this book should be enjoyed by many children.  The flap structure is large and sturdy, meaning it will work well for public or school libraries.  This book tackles a subject I haven’t seen in many picture books too, adding to the appeal. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

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Shout! Shout It Out!

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Shout! Shout It Out! by Denise Fleming

Released March 29, 2011.

If you are looking for a book that will help with the wiggles and energy of a toddler or preschool class, this is the book for you!

Fleming takes a fast-paced rhythm that chants for children to shout out the answers if they know them.  Then she runs through numbers, the alphabet, colors, animals and vehicles.  A little mouse makes aside comments throughout the book as well.  The illustrations are classic Fleming with  bright colors, large format, and a very active feel.

Fleming does her art in pulp painting, which gives the colors an unusual depth and a great texture.  The entire book is just as inviting and invigorating as the cover.  While the text is primarily calling for children to shout out the answers they know and then the different names of things, it shows a great restraint that really makes the book work well.

This is sure to be a hit in libraries and preschools.  I’d have it on hand for any rowdy toddler story time.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt.

Lots of Dots: Plenty of Colorful Fun

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Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier

This bright and fanciful book takes dots to a new level, celebrating all of the ways that dots and circles are in our life.  There are dots that are buttons, dots as flowers, dots as scoops of ice cream!  All in bright, vivacious colors that add to the joyful nature of this picture book.  The rhyming text is very simple, allowing the emphasis to be on the illustrations that are colorful, graphic and very fun.  This is a book that will have readers and listeners smiling at every page.

Frazier’s illustrations here have a great style that is very modern and still warm and friendly.  The humans in the illustrations are shown as a single color, eliminating any racial context and creating a book that is welcoming for any child.  Done in crisp white with bright colors, the pages almost shout with energy. 

Perfect for sharing with a group of toddlers or preschoolers, this book would  make a great jumping off point for crafts using round stickers or stamps.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.