Review: My First Busy World by Eric Carle

My First Busy World by Eric Carle

My First Busy World by Eric Carle (9781534443914)

Beloved author, Eric Carle, brings us a board book to explore and touch. The pages are filled with special cut outs, a mirror to look at yourself in, and textures. There are flaps to lift, sparkly elements, and windows to look through. The book is also filled with elements that are labeled. These are basic things like different foods, what you see outside, and what is in your bedroom. Parents can also talk about colors, the child’s own family members, and much more along the way.

Just right for the youngest of children, this board book is done in a larger format than most. The design is one that invites talking about what is on the page with little children. They are encouraged to count stars, touch different items, and explore the universe inside the book fully. Done in a robust format, the book will stand up nicely to use in a public library setting too.

An inviting book to explore. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy provided by Little Simon.

Review: One Shoe, Two Shoes by Caryl Hart

One Shoe, Two Shoes by Caryl Hart

One Shoe, Two Shoes by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Edward Underwood (9781547600946)

With a clear nod to Dr. Seuss and his iconic Red Fish, Blue Fish, this picture book celebrates rhymes, colors and footwear. The book begins with the dog having one shoe and the human having one shoe, then the two shoes are worn for a walk. There are different colored shoes, knotted laces, cowboy boots, and much more. Then a little mouse makes an appearance near the shoes. Could it be that the shoe is a house for a mouse? How many mice? The counting begins and eventually ends at ten. The dog investigates the mice for awhile but then heads out on another walk after fetching some shoes.

Hart’s text is simple with a bouncy rhyme that keeps the book merry. The pace is fast and jaunty, with plenty of action words along the way to make the book wonderfully playful. The concepts of colors and counting are nicely woven into the story. The circular feel of the book beginning and ending with shoes and walks makes for a book that feels complete.

The illustrations are done in a modern flat style in pencil, ink and collage done with computer assistance. The images are large enough to use with a group and guessing games could be played along the way, matching the shoes with their names, counting the mice (who tend to hide) and finding colors.

A happy book about counting and colors. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin

Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin

Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Blanca Gomez (9780525553816)

Told in simple rhymes, this book invites the youngest children to explore its pages and engage with the questions asked inside. The book begins with houses, including a little tree house for the tiny mouse. Colors are explored and then there is counting on the next page combined with more colors. The book takes readers on a bus, into the ocean, on all sorts of transportation, and asks engaging questions of the reader along the way. The book ends by inviting readers to look for the mouse hiding in every illustration.

This picture book’s jaunty rhymes are reminiscent of classic children’s books like Go Dog Go! The way that children are invited to engage with the book is wonderful and will help parents new to sharing books with children understand the sorts of questions that can be asked about the images in any picture book. Gomez’s illustrations are full of pure and bright colors that leap from the page, glowing with red, green, blue, orange and pink. The people on the pages are diverse and the urban setting where most of the book takes place is busy and friendly.

Engaging and fun, this book is best shared with only a few children so their perspectives can be heard. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Dial Books.

Review: Inside Outside by Anne-Margot Ramstein

Inside Outside by Anne-Margot Ramstein

Inside Outside by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Aregui (9781536205978)

This visually stunning book is the return of the creators of Before After. This book focuses on the opposites of inside and outside and also on the relationship between the two. Using only images, the book explores what it means to be “inside” and what it means to be “outside.” At times the book will fool the reader, allowing them to think they are outside when they are actual in, something revealed by the next picture in the pair. Images of a submarine window, which is on the cover of the book, reveal a pairing of the outside really being the vast ocean not the peek through the window. A setting in a snow globe may feel outdoors, but it’s actually caught inside the dome of the globe. These are just a few of the exciting opposites shared here.

So gorgeously designed, the modern illustrations in this book have a harmonious feel to them as readers progress through boats caught in storms, ocean life, and even pounding hearts. Each turn of the page is a delight and a surprise as readers try to figure out which is inside or outside and why. The art is filled with sharp lines, bright deep colors, and offers interesting perspectives on the subject matter just to fool the eye.

A brilliant wordless book meant to exploration. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick.

 

Review: Stop, Go, Yes, No! by Mike Twohy

Stop, Go, Yes, No! by Mike Twohy

Stop, Go, Yes, No! by Mike Twohy (9780062469335)

The author of Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! brings his fast-paced dog to a new concept book this time. In this new title, opposites are the focus. A dog and cat character demonstrate each set of opposites. The cat is asleep, the dog is awake. A chase ensues when the dog wakes the cat up, sending then over and under, smiling and frowning, high and low, hiding and seeking. Along the way the cat gets wet, a mess is made, and finally a compromise is reluctantly agreed to.

Twohy has a great sense of dynamics in this picture book, creating moments of humor and hijinx while still giving readers a compelling story arc. He uses his art to tell the tale, the only words being the pairs of opposites that are shown on the page. The emotions of both the cat and dog are clear and add to the funny nature of the story. Expect plenty of giggles.

An outstanding opposites picture book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from libray copy.

Bundles of Board Books

Animal Colors by Christopher Silas Neal

Animal Colors by Christopher Silas Neal (9781499805352)

This bright board book offers a mix of animals, colors and wordplay that is immensely engaging. The book takes one colored animal, mixes it with another animal and then ends up with an odd hybrid. For example, a blue whale and a yellow lion mix together to make a “Green Whion.” This continues through the book moving from primary colors mixing into secondary ones and then on to more complicated color combinations. The wordplay adds a delightful silliness to the book, making it impossible to quite guess what is on the next page. A colorful whimsical board book worth sharing. Appropriate for ages 2-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Birds of a Color by Elo

Birds of a Color by Elo (9781536200638)

In this board book, each bird shows not just one color but two. It takes little hands to help turn over the flaps to see the surprise color hiding behind wings, heads, beaks and more. The text of this book only shares the names of the colors, often hiding any words behind the flaps. There is a great sense of fun about this book, because the turn of the flap reveals a new side of that bird that is entirely unexpected. Playful and enjoyable, this is a great introduction to colors. Appropriate for ages 2-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Ciao, Baby! In the Park by Carole Lexa Schaefer Ciao, Baby! Ready for a Ride by Carole Lexa Schaefer

Ciao, Baby! In the Park by Carole Lexa Schaefer, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (9780763683986)

Ciao, Baby! Ready for a Ride by Carole Lexa Schaefer, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (9780763683979)

In these two board books, Baby gets to explore their urban home. In the first book, Nonna takes Baby to the park where they see a squirrel, a grasshopper, and a pigeon before having to head home. Baby scooches and crawls toward each animal until they scamper, jump or fly away. In the second book, Mamma and Baby head across the city to visit Nonna. They have to take many types of transportation to get there, including a stroller, the bus, a boat and the train. When they head home after the visit, they take the vehicles back in reverse order. A loving and warm look at life in an urban setting with a Hispanic family at its heart. Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copies.)

Opposites by Jacques Duquennoy Shapes by Jacques Duquennoy

Opposites by Jacques Duquennoy (9782747087001)

Shapes by Jacques Duquennoy (9782747086998)

These two board books are the first in the Zoe and Zack series. They feature die-cut pages that are sturdy enough to hold up to public library use. The opposites book offers clever uses of die cuts that turn stairs from up to down, rebuild castles with a single page turn, and bring back ice cream cones. Even more successful though is the shapes book where the two characters draw shapes together. The shapes are drawn partially on see-through pages that when turned form a complete shape. This clever mechanism makes for a dynamic book that will have children wanting to make their own shapes too. Two great board books with unique designs. Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copies.)

 

3 Brilliant Board Books

Circle, Triangle, Elephant By Kenji Oikawa

Circle, Triangle, Elephant! By Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi (9780714874111)

Following a pattern of naming the stacked shapes in order, this book immediately surprises readers by inserting elephants, boats, birds, lemons, and busses into the stacks. It is a very simple premise made entirely engaging by the surprises on each new page. Children will love to help name the items in the stacks and won’t even realize it’s a concept book at all. The images are bright colored and bold, each element easily recognized and named. Colors and other elements can be pointed out as well as this is bound to be a favorite. Appropriate for ages 1-2. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Opposite Surprise by Agnese Baruzzi

 

Opposite Surprise by Agnese Baruzzi (9789888341375)

With large flaps to lift, this board book asks questions about opposites that become more complicated and interesting once the flap is lifted and the picture is revealed. “Small or big?” opens to reveal two trucks, one of which may have seemed big without the other in the image.”Empty or full?” has an image of a fish tank that seems crowded with bright red fish, or is it? The illustrations are simple and bold and will lead to discussions about how they could be interpreted. This is a board book that begs to be shared and talked about. Appropriate for ages 2-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Pizza! By Lotta Nieminen

Pizza! By Lotta Nieminen

This one is best kept for library programming or for families to own, because it has one loose piece that will likely get lost in libraries without a creative way to attach it. But it is so charming that I had to recommend it anyway. The book uses an actual recipe for pizza making that then uses interactive elements to involve young children in the process. Salt and flour pour by pulling a tab. Children can use the spoon to stir. The best element though is a panel with “dough” that has just the right texture. Make sure to have some baking supplies ready to make pizza with children after sharing this one. Yum! Appropriate for ages 2-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Welcome to My House by Gaia Stella

Welcome to My House by Gaia Stella

Welcome to My House by Gaia Stella (9781452157924, Amazon)

Olga, a friendly black cat, leads readers through her home. She shows all of the objects in the house in a variety of categories. There is everything for sitting that includes a stool, chairs, and even a stack of books. Everything that brightens has candles, lamps, and a window. The lists continue with images of each item and a name. Everything that passes the time includes games but also brother and sister. While this is a look at the objects in a home, it also speaks to the various roles that the people in a home can have.

Originally published in France, this picture book has a distinct European feel. Stella presents a simple premise of a book that becomes more complex as readers look more closely at the items included in each category. There are some lists that are unusual like everything that shows time passing and everything for warming up that include unlikely items. This picture book shows categorizing items and also teaches words so it has many uses for young readers.

The illustrations are done in a simple and bold style that offers just enough detail to identify objects clearly but avoids being fussy or too crowded on the page. Readers will enjoy discovering that Olga is a cat, something that explains the sorts of things that make her list and are distinctly from a cat’s point of view.

A book that will have readers exploring the pages closely and inventing their own categories in their homes. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle.

 

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani (9781419723490, Amazon)

This simple counting picture book is full of feline fun. Starting with one sleeping cat, the book moves to two cats playing with yarn, then three cats stack together into a tower like the cover of the book demonstrates. Four and five cats make towers that threaten to tip. Six cats wisely split into two towers of three cats. Seven cats nap together and then eight cats try a very tall stack and tumble down. Nine cats form three stacks of three and ten cats are just too many. So then the subtraction starts and counting backwards begins.

This is simple counting presented in a humorous and clever way. The text has a great rhythm to it that weaves nicely into the counting itself. Small children will enjoy counting the cats and adults helping them can ask them to count the sleeping cats and point out the basics of multiplication and division shown clearly on the page.

The illustrations are bright and cheery, filled with teals and oranges that pop against one another. They have crisp graphic qualities and the cats themselves are entirely adorable as they play, snooze and stack on the pages.

A winning cat-filled counting book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.