This Beach Is Loud! by Samantha Cotterill (9780525553458)
A little boy is so excited to be headed to the beach with his father! He even made breakfast, packed and got dressed before his father woke up. On the way to the beach, he keeps up an excited chatter. But once they get there, the beach is crowded and loud. They set up their umbrella and towel a little apart from the crowd, but it’s still too sandy and hot. The boy wants to go home, right now! But his patient father helps him breathe and count. They set up a quiet fort and take some time. Soon everyone is ready to build sandcastles and have some ice cream together.
Cotterill looks at sensory overload in this picture book in the new Little Senses series. Children on the autism spectrum or highly sensitive children will recognize their response to new situations that are loud and crowded here. It is dealt with using sensitivity and exercises that are soothing and give back some control to the child. The tone here is reassuring that children can do it, with a little help.
The illustrations are bright and friendly. On the title page, readers will notice that the family has been planning and working up to going to the beach for awhile by using a chart. The noises of the beach are shown as overwhelming and loud, the chatter in the car forms the hills along the way, and the eventual shared noise making is smaller and more enjoyable. It’s a clever way to use words to create the environment around the characters and show the impact of noise.
A welcome subject for all libraries, this one is also a good read. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson (9781481415712, Amazon)
This picture book starts from the turn of the first page before the title page even appears. Questions are asked that let us follow the falling leaves into the book itself. The book layers words and questions, asking readers to look at the illustrations for the answers and creating rhymes that carry the reader deeper into the woods. The story follows a fox and a cat, as they make their way through the forest with an owl’s call haunting the air. Other sounds appear as well, inviting readers to guess what they are hearing and seeing. This is a sensory feast for children and an invitation to explore the night.
Jackson plays with language throughout the book. His poetry is layered and complex. It is created to be read aloud where the buried rhymes suddenly come through and the rhythms beat more strongly. Just as the book is about following sensory clues, the poetry is like that as well. You simply must give yourself up to the experience of reading it aloud rather than trying to control it at all. Throughout it is surprising, quiet and wild.
Tillotson’s illustrations are as rich and complex as the poetry. She crafts a wildness using perspectives and small details. Other pages are filled with darkness and near silence, then there is more to see and hear. Children will love looking for animals that they can just glimpse on the page: the porcupine disappearing into the darkness, the treefrog nearly invisible on a log.
A brilliant book to share aloud, this picture book is wild and free. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
What Color Is the Wind? by Anne Herbauts (InfoSoup)
A child who is blind walks through the world asking what color the wind is. He gets very different answers from those he asks. The wolf says the wind is “the dark smell of the forest.” For the bees, the wind is “the color of sunshine.” The apple tree sees the wind as “a sugary color” while its roots view it as “the color of sap and pomegranates.” By the end of the book, the child reaches a giant who says that the wind is the color of all of these things. Then readers are encouraged to flip the pages of the book, creating a rainbow of colors along the way and a breeze of wind too.
Herbauts’ book is exceptional. She has created a book filled with the senses. She incorporates touch into her illustrations, taste and smell are in many of the colors of the wind, and throughout there is a feel for the lack of vision and the increased vitality of the other senses. The imagery she matches with each character’s point of view is spot on. It’s done in a lush and lovely way that makes the experience of reading it intense and fascinating.
The illustrations have raised ridges in places that can be felt by the fingertips. They also have gloss on them to bring some of the tactile features out visually as well. Others are almost hidden until you run your fingers along them. The pages are filled with colors and playfulness with the child’s black boots walking along from page to page and other pages covered in raindrops or laundry.
Immensely beautiful, lush and wondrous, this picture book is a feast for all of the senses. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.
I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!) by Rachel Isadora (InfoSoup)
A book about your senses, this picture book invites the youngest of children to think about their senses and the many ways they use them in life. Starting with hearing, the book offers examples of different things that children may hear in their day like birds, bees and waves. There are also things you can’t hear, like worms. There are loud and soft noises too. Smelling has good smells like soap and bad smells like sneakers and baby diapers. Sight offers light and dark, the joy of wearing glasses to help you see, and the fun of reading. Touch has animals and rain, but also things not to touch like hot stoves or electric plugs. Taste is filled with foods, even ones like spinach that you may not want to eat at first. And then it all comes together in one crunchy pickle in the end.
Isadora uses small pictures on the page to show all sorts of interactions with the world. Children will enjoy seeing the things that they have done and then will want to talk about other ideas they have of things they have experienced with their senses. This is a book that starts a conversation with small children. Are there other things that are crunchy to eat? Other things that are dangerous to touch? Other things that you can’t hear at all? This book invites that sort of exploration of the child’s own world.
A joyous exploration of all of your senses that will have toddlers listening hard. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
No One But You by Douglas Wood, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
This radiant picture book speaks to each of us having individual experiences in the world. Only you can feel things the way that you do. Only you taste, hear, smell and see things in the way that you do. No one else breathes with your breath. No one else wishes on the same star in the same way. And no one else feels the emotions you do or says I love you the way that you mean it.
Wood’s writing reads like a poem, a verse that dances, expresses and moves. He turns his lens onto different specific moments, emphasizing how we all experience things differently. Using small moments of life, the book also quietly asks people to slow down and really experience what they are doing then. Because no one else will feel it but you.
Lynch’s art is quiet and powerful. His realistic paintings focus on diverse children doing day-to-day things. The expressions they show are candid, real and vibrant. His colors range from bright to dark, all of them filled with a special light that emanates from the children’s faces.
A gorgeous picture book, this is ideal for bedtime reading and is sure to make any child who hears it think about just how special they are. Appropriate for ages 4-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Candlewick Press.
All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang
A small child thanks each body part for how well they work. Fine feet hold you up, hands can grab and hold, arms to hug, mouth, eyes, nose, ears, and heart. Each bit of us is constantly supporting our life, allowing us to do what we need to do. Every day we feel so many different things, do so many different things. And in the end? We are part of the universe and alive!
Bang’s art is so beautiful and simple here. The end pages of the book feature some of her work space and then some ideas for children to start creating their own illustrations and books. The book features felt, crayon, paint, and most importantly for its inherent feel: brown paper bags. The brown paper creates a very organic feel to the book that works brilliantly with the subject.
Her words are simple too, allowing children to really think about what each of their body parts does. They will also realize how important each of these small functions are to their days and lives. Bang approaches all of this with a sense of joy and playfulness that is echoed in the art.
For parents who are practicing mindfulness or daily gratitude, this book is the perfect way to get your children thinking in a positive way about small, basic parts of their lives. Appropriate for ages 2-5.
Reviewed from library copy.