Review: Spots in a Box by Helen Ward

Spots in a Box by Helen Ward

Spots in a Box by Helen Ward

A guinea fowl is worried about his lack of plumage design, so he sends off for spots in the mail. They come wrapped in brown paper and string, something that always makes a package more intriguing. But inside, they are not the spots he expected. They are too big for his taste. Luckily though, more spots arrive. Some are too small, others too sparkly. Still others glow in the dark! But eventually after looking at lots of different options, our protagonist picks out some spots that are just perfect and they may not be what you may have expected. Yet they are just right for him.

Ward has written a winning book. Written in rhyme that is never forced but feel very natural, this book is a pleasure to share aloud. The real focus here are the illustrations and those are what make the book so interesting. A large part of the joy here is the silliness of a bird shopping for spots. That is made all the more fascinating because our guinea fowl hero is drawn very lifelike and reacts like a bird would. It is a delightful mix of reality and the rather farcical humor of shopping for dots and spots.

This book is about design and personal style without it being about pink things and tulle. So it’s a very refreshing addition to book shelves where children who have different tastes will find themselves imagining what spots would suit them in life. The design of the book itself is lovely with nods to leopard print and playful die cut pieces at times.

Very young readers will find lots to love here with pages that sparkly and some that have raised spots. It’s also a great book to inspire drawing or discussions of style. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale

stripes of all types

Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale

Visit this gallery of animals who bear stripes of all sorts.  There are animals that live in the ocean, ones that slither in grass, large cats, amphibians, insects, mammals and more.  Drawn in crisp illustrations that show the stripe detail as well as pieces of their habitat.  The book reads quickly, carried forward by the rhyming text.  Children looking for more information on the intriguing animals can turn to the back of the book. 

Thanks to the rollicking rhyme and the short sentences in the body of the book, even toddlers will enjoy this nonfiction book.  Older children will enjoy talking about the different animals and reading more details. 

Entertaining and informative, this is a very flexible title that a wide range of ages will find interesting.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Peachtree Publishers.

Review: Animal 123 & Animal Spots and Stripes by Britta Teckentrup

animal 123 animal spots and stripes

Animal 123 by Britta Teckentrup

Animal Spots and Stripes by Britta Teckentrup

This pair of lift-the-flap books for preschoolers are very cleverly done.  My favorite of the two is the counting one, where the flap on each page lifts to reveal the next number and another one of the animals to count.  Spots and Strips also has flaps which in this case lift to reveal related animals with either spots or stripes that contrast and complement the animals on the main page.  The flaps on both books are large and sturdy, making these books that libraries could have on their shelves.

Teckentrup’s graphics are really what make these books special.  Her use of bold colors and large sized illustrations are striking.  The animals are jaunty and filled with life, fairly bouncing off of the page.  Add the appeal of lifting flaps and you have books that small children will ask to have read to them again and again.  Even more special is that the flaps are really part of the design of the books themselves.  They are much more than just added appeal, instead they are inherent to the way the books function. 

Great picks for libraries, but also equally great picks for holiday gifts for toddlers and preschoolers.  Appropriate for ages 2-4, as long as they are past the board book phase and able to be gentle with pages.