Jasper & Ollie by Alex Willan (9780525645214)
Jasper and Ollie are best friends. At breakfast, Jasper wants to go to the pool and Ollie agrees. Jasper, the fox, wants to race to get there and runs out of the house. Along the way, he pull on his swimsuit, blows past the mailman who dumps his letters, jumps over a turtle painting a fence, and hustles past the ice cream truck. Now Jasper has to wait for Ollie though. And Ollie, the sloth, has a very different approach. He watches butterflies, smells the flowers, picks up the spilled mail, gets a drink, helps paint the fence, and gets an ice cream cone. Meanwhile Jasper is rushing around trying to see if Ollie is somewhere at the pool and manages to get himself thrown out. Luckily, that is just when Ollie arrives with ice cream cones for both of them.
Willan tells this story solely in speech bubbles. He uses framing techniques from comic books to great effect here. On the larger upper frame, he shows Jasper in his speedy desperation to find Ollie. Below, Ollie moves along quietly enjoying his walk to the pool. Jasper is often accompanied by a dashed line showing his movement over and under and around people and obstacles and usually accompanied by chaos in his wake.
The illustrations are brilliantly done with plenty of humor too. It has a wonderful aesthetic to it where the pattern of Ollie’s swimsuit is repeated on various things at the pool that Jasper searches. The illustrations are worth looking closely at to catch all of the funny moments and small touches along the way.
A combination of speed and sloth that makes for a great friendship and plenty of laughs. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Doubleday Books for Young Readers.
Up, Up, Up, Down! by Kimberly Gee (9780525517337)
A toddler’s day is filled with opposites in this adorable picture book. Being lifted up out of their crib and set down on the ground the play. Saying no to all kinds of breakfast and then yes to blueberries. Clothes go on and then come right back off again. They hurry up and then slow down. There is making and breaking things. Balloons are “yay!” and then “uh-oh!” Sadness becomes better again too.
Filled with all kinds of little kid action, this book will resonate with toddlers and their parents alike. The concept of opposites is nicely woven into the activities of a normal day out and about. The text has a rhythm to it as the words repeat. The illustrations show an African-American father and child who spend their day together. The end of the day shows an exhausted father and a mother home from work.
A concept book ideal for toddlers, this one is a joy. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy provided by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
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.
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.
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 (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
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.)
The Long Dog by Eric Seltzer (InfoSoup)
Dog after dog appear in this easy reader that is reminiscent of the classic Go, Dog. Go! The very simple text shows opposites. There are hot dogs and cold dogs. Wet dogs and dry dogs. Dirty dogs and clean dogs. Each shown with a simple illustration that will help new readers decode the words. Throughout the book, a particularly long dog appears again and again, adding a touch of whimsy and humor. This is a simple yet very engaging beginning reader with tons of appeal.
Seltzer uses very simple sentences throughout his book, appealing directly to new readers. The use of opposites also helps with new readers figuring out the words as well as the repeating simple sentence structure. The illustrations have a winning cartoon style that is simple as well. Each sentence is clearly matching to a corresponding image aiding in new reader skills. The added touches of humor throughout make for a book that is fun to read as well.
A nice pick for beginning reader collections, this is simple, easy and full of humor. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Hueys in What’s the Opposite by Oliver Jeffers (InfoSoup)
The Hueys are back with another book, this one focused on opposites. One Huey starts by asking another what the opposite of beginning is, but that stumps the other one. So they move on to easier opposites like here and there, up and down, yes and no. Each of the opposites is acted out by the characters with lots of humorous touches that make the book a delight to read and share. As always, the Hueys have exactly the right tone for a preschool crowd, this time making the concept of opposites great fun to learn.
Jeffers has a real gift for quiet humor that is shown mostly in the illustrations while the text stays focused and matter of fact. Sharing this aloud is not about just reading the text, but also exploring the illustrations together to make sure that you don’t miss the smashed cup of tea when the cat is gotten down from the tree (by sawing it down). At times the text gets in on the fun too, like when the Huey caught on a desert island is unlucky at first, then lucky and then sadly, unlucky once again.
Children will enjoy that the opposites get more complex at the end of the book. A discussion of whether a glass is half full or half empty should lead to everyone joining the Huey with his hurting head. The end of the book adds to the merriment finally answering the original question of the opposite of beginning.
A real joy to read and share, this picture book will appeal to both existing Huey fans and will also earn new ones. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Philomel Books.
Is It Big or Is It Little? by Claudia Rueda
Explore opposites and perspective in this little book. It is the story of a mouse and a cat, who chase across the pages, changing the perspective the reader sees from on each page. Is the ball of yarn big as seen by the mouse? Or is it little when seen by the cat? Deep water for the mouse becomes shallow when the cat heads in. Light objects for the mouse are heavy for ants. And even the most scary creature can also be scared themselves.
Rueda’s text is done in simple questions that show the opposite concepts clearly. The real draw of this book are the illustrations which have a minimalism that is very appealing. Done entirely in grays, black and orange, the illustrations have a pop edge to them that is both graphically pleasing and has great touches of humor.
Bright and bold, this book approaches opposites and perspective with a clever storyline and elegant illustrations. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
Pomelo’s Opposites by Ramona Badescu, illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
Pairs of opposites are shown together, one on each page. But this is no regular opposites book, instead it is filled with sly humor. The first surprise is how think this small square book is with page after page of opposites, more than you would have thought possible. And it’s those unusual opposites, the ones that you have to stretch to understand that make this such a winning little book. There are the expected opposites like far and near, left and right, high and low. Turn a few more pages though, and you will see dream and reality, handsome and weird. Filled with surprise after surprise, this is an opposite book that children of all ages will enjoy.
Chaud’s illustrations are really the winners here. The text is so simple, just word pairs that the illustrations have to carry the book. In and out is shown as eat and poop, which is sure to delight children. Others are completely strange like evident and unimaginable. I’ll let you explore to find out the images for that.
This is a book that gets you thinking about the nature of opposites. Children can use it as a jumping off point for creating their own unusual opposites and illustrating them. Or just read it and laugh out loud at the great surprises waiting for you. Appropriate for ages 3-6.