We All Play by Julie Flett

We All Play by Julie Flett (9781771646079)

Children and animals both love to play. This picture book incorporates Cree words into the narrative. Animals play in the grass, hopping, sniffing, sneaking. They peek and peep. Children play too, leaping through the grass or laying down in it. Animals swim and so do children. Animals slide and rumble and wiggle, just like children sledding in the snow. Animals settle down, roosting and yawning, finally falling asleep. Children do too.

Told in very simple language, woven with Cree words, this picture book shows the connection the natural world and its value to children in particular. The Cree words repeat with the children themselves saying them, something that would be great to do in a story time when this book is shared. The illustrations show a diverse group of children playing outside, acting just like the animals. A glossary of Cree words is offered at the end of the book along with a list of the animals who appear on the pages.

A frolic of a picture book that speaks to the importance of outdoor play. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Greystone Kids.

Ty’s Travels: All Aboard! by Kelly Starling Lyons

Ty's Travels All Aboard by Kelly Starling Lyons

Ty’s Travels: All Aboard! by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nina Mata (9780062951120)

Ty loves adventures and most of all he wishes his family would play with him. But his father is busy making dinner, his mother is folding the laundry, and his big brother is doing his homework. Ty spots an empty box and knows just what to do with it. Soon he has built a train engine and begins a journey down the tracks. At the first stop, someone is waiting! It’s Daddy, who climbs aboard. At the next stop, it’s Momma who comes aboard in time to see the city go by. The next stop has his big brother join in. The last stop comes eventually and they are back home just in time for dinner.

There is real challenge in writing a good easy reader and Lyons meets that challenge head on here. With her story of a supportive and playful family, she has a story that can be told simply. It has plenty of action and motion to keep the story moving forward in a way that is paced perfectly for new readers.

The illustrations by Mata are friendly and use the white space on the page nicely. They support the text on the page, offering new readers just the right amount of support visually. She also shows the imaginary journey clearly using crayon and simpler graphics that are done in a childlike style.

This series is a great pick for new readers. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins. 

 

13 Stories about Harris by Amy Schwartz

13 Stories about Harris by Amy Schwartz

13 Stories about Harris by Amy Schwartz (9780823442492)

Harris is a little boy who lives with his parents in his urban neighborhood. In the thirteen (quite short) stories in this book, he is very busy. He draws a huge dragon on the sidewalk, helps in the kitchen, goes on a windy walk, attends his first birthday party, and heads to preschool for the first time. On Thanksgiving, Harris was a truck all day. On other days, he goes to the beach or takes care of a friend’s hamster. There is a lot to do!

Schwartz once again captures the activities and essence of being a preschooler. Harris is wonderfully open to all of his small adventures, experiencing a lot of them for the first time. The book exudes warmth and a family that allows their small child the space to explore and make mistakes but are also always attentive and around to help. The charm of these thirteen stories is remarkable, showing children that they are right where they need to be and that many of these experiences are universal to all small children.

The illustrations show a dynamic and diverse urban neighborhood where Harris is living. The illustrations have plenty of white space, the city streets sometimes taking over with their brick buildings and sidewalks.

Gorgeous preschool vignettes that show the delights of this age. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Holiday House.

Dusk Explorers by Lindsay Leslie

Dusk Explorers by Lindsay Leslie, illustrated by Ellen Rooney (9781624148712)

Head outside into the early summer evening in this picture book. Play in the trees and see who can climb highest. Enjoy leapfrogging, kick the can, and running while playing tag. Take the time though to feel the bark, watch the leaves, discover worms, and hunt for frogs. Find a quiet curb to share some secrets before a game of hide and seek. As night continues to fall, the fireflies emerge. Soon parents are calling for children to head home and the neighborhood gets quiet until the children emerge again into the darkness as the moon rises.

Leslie cleverly shows the joys of being outside as darkness comes by weaving together plenty of games and activities with quieter moments of discovery. The resulting laughter combines with feeling safe and able to be on your own in the dark. Many of the games and activities are unique to just this time of day like the firefly catching and kick the can while others can be enjoyed at any time of day.

The illustrations by Rooney are done in vibrant mixed media with paint, collage and digital elements. They are filled with diverse children, all playing with one another. They also capture the changing light and colors of the sky beautifully as dusk and evening emerge.

Just right for summer afternoons so that children can experience their own dusk that night. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Page Street Kids.

My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano

My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano

My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki (9781534427228)

A little girl talks about her new friend, who just might also be her best friend too. The two of them play together at the park, quacking like ducks, running around, and even siting quietly. Her friend knows how to turn leaves into skeleton hands and fix flowers that have been stepped on, kind of. The two draw together, and the little girl realizes they might just be best friends. They hide together during hide and seek, trying to muffle their giggles. When the little girl pretends to be a pickle, her friend laughed and laughed. They may like different kinds of ice cream, but they can still be best friends. Perhaps tomorrow they can learn each other’s names!

Fogliano perfectly captures the wonder of meeting a kindred spirit as a child and spending an entire day together laughing and playing. Her writing shows all of their shared activities and how they help the two girls bond closely together, despite just having met. Silly things like pretending to be a pickle serve to prove they have the same sense of humor, so that taste in ice cream flavors can be ignored. The ending of the book is clever and sets just the right moment, showing deep understanding of children.

Tamaki’s illustrations are marvelous. She shows the two girls playing and laughing together. They are done in a modern limited color palette of pinks, greens and browns that show the girls in fine-lined detail with very expressive faces. It’s like getting to play along with them yourself.

A warm look at first friendships. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Review: Penny and Penelope by Dan Richards

Penny and Penelope by Dan Richards

Penny and Penelope by Dan Richards, illustrated by Claire Almon (9781250156075)

When two very different girls get together for a play date, it turns out their dolls are just as different. Penelope is a very sweet princess with a tea set and a pony. Penny is a secret agent with a motorcycle. When danger arrives outside the castle, Penny rushes forward. She defeats the crocodile in the moat and then moves on to take out the werewolf lurking in the woods. Soon Penny and Penelope are riding together on the motorcycle trying to escape, but the werewolf makes its way into the castle tower. It turns out that a princess might be just right for taking out a werewolf as long as she has a cunning plan!

Written entirely in dialogue between the two girls, this book has a breezy quality that makes it perfect for reading aloud. Their voices merge with those of their dolls, and are shown on the page in different colors and fonts. There is a certain amount of doubt in the beginning about whether they want to play together, but as their imaginations take over the adventure begins and both dolls are right in the mix of things. The notion that girls can be secret agents, princesses, robots and more resonates clearly here, and the book celebrates all of the options equally.

Almon’s illustrations are bright and bold. They celebrate both the dazzling gown of the princess doll and the slick leather of the secret agent. The action is captured nicely as are the differences between both girls and their dolls.

This playful picture book is just right for your little princess or secret agent. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Jump! by Tatsuhide Matsuoka

Jump! by Tatsuhide Matsuoka

Jump! by Tatsuhide Matsuoka (9781776572311)

Leap into this great board book for toddlers! On one page, the animal is sitting waiting to jump, then with the turn of the page the animal launches into the air. Each jump is accompanied with a merry and silly noise that is some version of “boing!” Sometimes there are additional syllables to create even more fun. The format turns the book lengthwise so that the animals can jump even higher. The illustrations are simple and joyous.

A delight of a board book sure to get everyone jumping. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy provided by Gecko Press.

Review: Ultrabot’s First Playdate by Josh Schneider

Ultrabot's First Playdate by Josh Schneider

Ultrabot’s First Playdate by Josh Schneider (9781328490131)

When Ultrabot’s professor invites their neighbor Becky to come over for a playdate at their secret lab, Ultrabot is very nervous. He wonders if Becky will share or break his toys. He pictures her as an enormous furry dog-person with barrettes all over. But Becky turns out to be a little human girl. She brings a ball along with her and after some initial shyness, Ultrabot sees that they can share. The two played ball together, drew cats, and had sandwiches for lunch (with the crusts cut off.) They shared all of Ultrabot’s toys too, though afterwards the professor thought it best if they met at Becky’s house next time.

Schneider tells a very touching and funny story of a shy giant robot and his first playdate. Ultrabot’s emotions mirror those of a young child going to their first playdate or meeting a new person. The questions he thinks about, the worries he has and the resolution are all very human.

However, the illustrations show that this is still one giant robot who has toys like real airplanes, eats sandwiches made of girders and diesel tanks, and is able to do wild math calculations. The illustrations are wildly funny and set a perfect tone. I particularly love that the secret lab is ever-so-obvious and out-of-place in their residential neighborhood.

Funny and friendly, this is just right for any reluctant robot in your house. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Run Wild by David Covell

Run Wild by David Covell

Run Wild by David Covell (9780670014118)

Head outside with this picture book that encourages children to run in nature. Sunshine, fresh air, breezes and dirt are all celebrated here. Jump in the water, talk to worms, run through the woods. The joy of running fast, getting dirty, howling and diving. The book is entirely outdoors and movement through nature, a pelting quick book that is full of natural delights.

The text has organic rhymes embedded in it. It works really well read aloud where the rhymes fall into place in a natural way, encouraging children to be loose and free, just like the text. The illustrations are just as loose as the text suggests. They are filled with trees, mushrooms, birds, caves, water, and children.

A fresh and natural read that encourages children to play outside for the day. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Viking.