Here are four new board books to enjoy with little ones:
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 (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 (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 (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.)
Ducks Away! By Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek (9781338185669)
A mother duck crosses a bridge with her ducklings, all five of them! But then one of the little ducks is blown off of the bridge and down into the water below. Mother Duck doesn’t know what to do with four ducklings on the bridge and one down in the water. Then one by one, the other little ducks tumble down to the water. Finally, all five are floating below and they encourage their mother to join them and take the jump herself. This playful counting book merrily counts up to five in a natural way, then counts both up and down as ducklings move from bridge to water. It all feels so much a part of the story thanks to the subtle rhyme structure and the rhythms deftly created by Fox. The illustrations continue the simplicity of the text, and are just right to share with a group or with one child. A picture book you can count on! Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Everybunny Count! By Ellie Sandall (9781534400146)
As the foxes and bunnies play together, they decide that today is the day for hide-and-seek. They count up to ten and then as they search, the counting begins again. They steadily count up to ten once more, giving young listeners objects to count on each page. When the bunnies finally find Fox, he has a surprise for them! One that will help them count all the way to ten again. Sandall’s picture book has a freshness and a lightness that is very welcome. The incorporation of so much counting in a single book adds to the fun as do the personalities of each of the animals. A counting delight. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Shake the Tree by Chiara Vignocchi, Paolo Chiarinotti and Silvia Borando (9780763694883)
This bright and active picture book is just right for sharing aloud. When Mouse discovers a nut high in a tree, she tries shaking the tree to get it to fall down to her. She shakes it a little to the left and right, but the nut doesn’t budge. A fox though falls down out of the tree and wants to eat the Mouse who scampers up into the tree’s branches. So the Fox shakes the tree, but the Mouse and the nut do not fall down, instead a Warthog comes down and Fox runs up the tree to escape. When Bear falls down next, he really shakes the tree a lot. All of the animals fall down to the ground along with the nut. What will Bear do now?
Shared aloud, the reader will be shaking the tree and the book back and forth. This book could so easily help with concepts of right and left, particularly if you made the story time interactive and the children helped “shake” the tree too. The book also has a clever way to incorporate counting with each animal adding a shake each time they try. It counts up without actually counting, making it a book that has a natural rhythm and appeal. The illustrations add to this with their bright colors and the large animals tumbling from the tree. Funny and a great read-aloud add this one to your next story time on trees or counting. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Where, Oh Where, Is Baby Bear? By Ashley Wolff (9781481499163)
This picture book continues Wolff’s series on Baby Bear and his explorations of his habitat. Here, Baby Bear and his mother head out to look for food. But every time his mother looks for him, Baby Bear has disappeared. Again and again she has to call out “Where, oh where, is Baby Bear” and then her little bear responds. Readers will enjoy spotting where Baby Bear is heading and then where he is hiding as the pages turn. The repetition is handled nicely, giving the book a lovely rhythm when being read aloud. The illustrations are crisp and filled with details of their forest home. A great read aloud pick. Appropriate for ages 1-4. (Review copy provided by Beach Lane Books.)
Where’s Halmoni? By Julie Kim (9781632170774)
This picture book is done in a full-color graphic-novel style that will be appealing to children even beyond picture book age. It is the story of Korean-American siblings who head to their grandmother’s home to find her missing. They discover a magical passage in her home that leads to a world filled with creatures from Korean folklore. There is Tokki (the rabbit), Dokkebi (the goblins), and Horanghee (the tiger). As the children figure out how to get past each of the creatures using snacks and games, they come close to learning their grandmother’s secret. Sharp-eyed children will realize what happens to the fox at the end of this Korean adventure. The appeal of folklore combined with a modern graphic-novel style makes this book a winner. Appropriate for ages 5-9. (Reviewed from library copy.)
The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
When a mouse is gobbled up by a wolf, he discovers there is life after being eaten. Inside the wolf’s stomach, a duck is already living. The duck has a bed, a table, tablecloth, chairs and much more. The duck likes being inside the wolf, because he no longer has to worry about being eaten, since it’s already happened. Soon the mouse has decided to stay and the two have a dance party to celebrate. Unfortunately, this makes the wolf’s stomach hurt. He is spotted by a hunter and soon all three animals are in danger as the hunter takes aim. What can be done to save them all? It will take all three to save the day. Barnett has the perfect rather dark humor to work with Klassen’s illustrations. The story has a mix of fun and fate that will have readers guessing right up until the end. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Firefighter Duckies! by Frank W. Dormer (9781481460903, Amazon)
Get ready for some brave ducks in this picture book! The firefighter duckies are called into all sorts of emergencies and have to find the solution for them all. They are brave and strong. They rescue a gorilla in a chef hat who has started a fire with his cupcake candle. They rescue whales caught in hungry, angry trees. They help dinosaurs on bicycles and stop rampaging centipedes. They even straighten out the alphabet and aid hairy monsters. It takes strength, bravery, hair cuts, kindness and being helpful. And it also takes a lot of rest afterwards!
Dormer taps into a stream of extreme weirdness in this picture book, demanding that readers just go along with it. The wild ride is definitely worth it and the result is a very fast-paced book that is hilarious. The simple but silly text works perfectly with the equally silly illustrations. Make sure not to get too caught in the speed of the book to notice the details. Just the looks on the ducks’ faces is a hoot as are the circumstances they need to figure out.
A book sure to “quack” you up, this is the perfect book to rescue a toddler story time. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
On Duck Pond by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bob Marstall (9781943645220, Amazon)
This is the second book in the children’s picture book series by the award-winning duo of Yolen and Marstall that is done in conjunction with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. A boy and his dog take a walk in a new setting. This time it is near a pond where everything is very quiet but soon the ducks arrive and break the silence with their splashing and quacking. The other creatures at the pond are startled and move away, including frogs, turtles, a heron and the tadpoles. Soon the pond goes back to being still and quiet and the other animals come out of hiding.
Yolen’s poetry is particularly effective. She pays such attention to small details not only in the animals as they react to the ducks but to the reflections in the water as they go from mirror-like to shattered to reflective once again. The water itself reacts similarly to the animals and the sounds, it’s a lovely connection that is clearly done and yet poetically presented allowing a sense of discovery for the reader.
Marstall’s illustrations are detailed and wonderfully natural. They embrace the greens of the surrounding land and also the colors of the animals themselves and the water. He uses plenty of detail on the animals themselves, showing them up close to the reader so that one can almost smell the pond water on the pages.
A grand look at a small pond and its vibrations throughout a boy’s day and life. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
My Kite Is Stuck by Salina Yoon
This second Duck, Duck, Porcupine! book continues the refreshing humor of the first. Familiar characters return with Big Duck leading the way, often into confusion. Porcupine joins in. Little Duck is quiet and wise, though no one ever pays him any attention. The book is made up of three short stories. The first story faces the problem of a kite stuck in a tree and their unique and very silly solution to the problem. The second story is about what happens when the characters make new friends, with bugs. Finally, there is the problem of the excitement of the lemonade stand and Big Duck and Porcupine forgetting one important ingredient: the lemonade!
Yoon has a great touch with humor. She allows each joke to play out just long enough to get all of the joy out of it and then briskly moves along to the next story. The stories are entertaining and fun, each of them written for beginning readers to enjoy with adult help or on their own. The three characters play beautifully against one another and will appeal to young readers.
The art is bold and bright. It reminds me of comic panels with its thick black outline on each double-page spread. The speech bubbles add to that feeling as well, making this almost a graphic novel for new readers, but not quite. I particularly enjoy the moments when Little Duck breaks the fourth wall and looks out directly at the reader for sympathy.
Funny and full of laughter, this emergent reader almost-graphic-novel is just right. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Bloomsbury.
Bear Likes Jam by Ciara Gavin
Released February 14, 2017.
This is the third book in the sweet series about a bear that lives with a flock of ducks. Bear discovers his love of jam and forgot to share it with the ducklings. He ate it late at night and during the day. Mama Duck worried that Bear wasn’t eating a balanced diet, even though Bear proved that he could balance very well. So she started trying to feed Bear vegetables at dinner with no jam. Bear refused to even taste them and went to bed hungry. Breakfast was oatmeal with no jam in sight. Dinner came around with no jam either. But then the ducks showed Bear a new game! It was a game that got him eating vegetables without even noticing and then he was a happy bear because he could also have a jar or two of jam a day along with the ducks.
Throughout this series, Gavin has played off of the fact that Bear has unique needs just because he’s a bear compared to all of the other ducks in the family. The last book was about hibernating and this one is about delicious foods. Bear is a wonderful character who just is who he is. His love of jam suits his character perfectly and once again the ducks band together to create a solution to help Bear be healthier and yet still be himself too.
The art has delicate lines, the ducklings tiny compared to the mountainous bear. The watercolors add sweep across some pages, but most of the pages use white as a background. Small details add to the appeal with flowered pillows on seats to get little ducklings high enough and ducklings merrily munching on fruits and vegetables.
A book that addresses healthy eating with a sense of balance and plenty of sweetness. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.
The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering
Captain Alfred is heading home with his boat full of ducks for his farm and one special duck egg that’s about to hatch as a present for his wife. But his boat is hit by a storm and everything including the egg is thrown overboard. Luckily, the egg survives the storm, kept afloat in the Captain’s fiddle case. When the duckling hatches from the egg, he is all alone until he spots something else floating in the sea. It’s the Captain’s fiddle and when the duckling hugs it closely it produces a beautiful sound. But how can one little duckling and one fiddle survive the open sea? It will take the magic of music.
Ering is the illustrator of The Tale of Despereaux and has created other picture books of his own. This picture book has a gorgeous tone and pace, each moment shining and special as the story unfolds. Ering allows the story space to speak, giving time to the duckling finding the fiddle, a moment to pause when the duckling reaches land, and many other such moments too. Each is beautifully told with a voice that reads aloud beautifully. It’s a tale that children will enjoy, an adventure of wonder and music.
The illustrations are a wonderful mix of cartoon and lush realistic settings. The duckling has a personality all his own, glowing yellow on the page. Other moments like the storm approaching are filled with nature in all of its beauty and fury. The pages turn and one is never sure if it will reveal a sweep of nature or a new comical moment. The entire book works as a whole, the surprise of page turns, the comic elements and the natural details.
A picture book about music and friendship that is a great pick for a read aloud. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Bear Is Not Tired by Ciara Gavin (InfoSoup)
This is the second book featuring Bear and his adopted family of ducks. In the first book, the bear and ducks had to figure out a home that worked for all of them. In this follow up, bear is getting steadily more and more sleepy as winter approaches. But ducks don’t hibernate and Bear worried about missing out on things throughout an entire season. So Bear decided not to sleep, but the ducks started to notice that Bear was acting differently. Bear tried and tried to stay awake, but nothing seemed to work. Finally Mama Duck pulled Bear aside and promised that if he slept through the winter, he would not miss a thing. And it was true!
Gavin has written another winning picture book about the unusual pairing of a family of ducks and a solitary bear. Here the story focuses on Bear and his unique need to sleep through the cold months. It’s a story that will speak to families who have people who respond differently to things, who like different activities, but still want to be with one another. Perhaps the ducks’ ways of including Bear in everything despite him being asleep will inspire new ways of thinking for human families to stay close even when they are doing different things.
Gavin’s art work has a lovely gauzy quality to it, giving Bear his huge softness. Meanwhile the little ducks are done in firmer lines. All of them have personalities that brighten the page and enhance the story. The little ducks are all characters, and it is clear through their body language alone how much all of the animals love one another.
A lovely winter read, perfect for curling up on a cozy couch or snuggled at bedtime. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.