Black and White by Debora Vogrig

Cover image for Black and White.

Black and White by Debora Vogrig, illustrated by Pia Valentinis (9780802855756)

On a page full of black with a few white-lit windows, White wakes up. White spreads light through the sky and enters the house. Black hides under the bed. The two push and pull, wrestling a bit, then they head off together. Together they make neat crosswalk lines and then octopus ink messy splatter that turns into a spotted Dalmatian dog. The friends head to the forest of birch trees, to the Poles to see polar bears and penguins. They reach the savannah and run with zebras and the jungle where panthers stalk. In the evening, Black is the one who stretches out and fills the space. White begs for one more game, one more song, one more story and finally the two dazzle the night sky together.

This book explores colors, opposites and a playful friendship between white and black, light and dark. The text invites readers into their friendship and play, showing how the two colors balance one another, create surprising designs together, and form shadows and lightness. The interplay between the two opposites is cleverly done, showing how friends don’t have to agree or be similar to have a strong friendship.

The art in this picture book is done entirely in black and white with no touches of other color. The use of shadows, shapes, light sources and more create a dynamic style on the page, inviting readers to look closely, guess at the animals before the text reveals them and enjoy immersion into this two-tone world.

A stirring look at black and white, colors and opposites that inspires. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

Yes & No by Elisha Cooper

Cover image for Yes & No.

Yes & No by Elisha Cooper (9781250257338)

A dog and a cat live together. In the morning, the dog is ready for anything while the cat wakes up more slowly and with a touch of grumpiness. The dog wants breakfast, while the cat isn’t hungry. The dog helps clean up, and the cat walks off. The dog wants to play while the cat avoids him. Their owner sends them outside to play together. The dog is full of delight and eagerness, exploring the backyard with enthusiasm while the cat naps on a tree branch. Finally sent off even further, they head out together and find a common spot to sit and look at the world while sniffing the breeze. Called to come back in, now it’s the dog who doesn’t want to go back inside, doesn’t want to have a bath, or head to bed. It’s the cat who brings the blanket back and gets the dog ready to sleep. But the cat may have other ideas too.

Told in the voices of the cat, dog and their owner, this picture book is marvelously understated. The voices of each character are distinct from one another with the imperious cat, the eager dog, and the owner who’d just like a little peace. The text reads aloud beautifully, since it is solely the voices of the characters with no narration at all.

The art is classic Cooper, telling a story in deft and clever lines. The cat is an elegant black figure against the white background while the dog almost bursts from the page, often looking right at the reader and looking for fun.

A grand picture book of opposites who are the best of friends. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Line and Scribble by Debora Vogrig

Book cover.

Line and Scribble by Debora Vogrig, illustrated by Pia Valentinis (9781797201870)

Though they are very different, Line and Scribble are great friends. They love to show one another what they are creating with ruler-straight lines or dreamy swirls. Line travels by straight roads, railroad tracks or planes that head straight to their destination. Scribble wanders, creates roller coasters. Line makes straight fur on dogs and straight elegant hair on people. Scribble makes fluffy cats and people with curly hair. Line likes breadsticks while Scribble enjoys cotton candy. Line likes to drink with a straw and Scribble makes bubbles. Together the two of them also combine to create a very dramatic visual storm full of straight rain, swirls of tornadoes, and plenty of wind. When the entire page is dark, Line sweeps it all away and the two friends start again.

This Italian import is joyous and full of ways to celebrate differences between friends where you can stay entirely yourself and still play together. Mostly told in the illustrations, this picture book is marvelously stylized with its almost entirely black and white images made of simple lines and swirls. Readers will enjoy exploring shapes and ways to make entire pictures with just a line or curl.

A lively and touching book about friendship because of differences. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.

Review: Jasper & Ollie by Alex Willan

Jasper & Ollie by Alex Willan

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.

Review: Up, Up, Up, Down! by Kimberly Gee

Up, Up, Up, Down! by Kimberly Gee

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. 

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.

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.)

The Long Dog by Eric Seltzer

The Long Dog by Eric Seltzer

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.