Play with Your Plate! by Judith Rossell

Play with Your Plate! by Judith Rossell

Play with Your Plate! by Judith Rossell (9781419739071)

This clever board book opens to reveal four separate sections, all done in sturdy board pages. Little ones are encouraged to play with the sections, as each one has an engaging question on it. Can you make a plate of only circles or triangles? Can you make one of only one color? Can you find a plate with all your favorite foods? Start turning the pages and you will discover a multi-topped pizza, Japanese sushi and miso soup, tacos, sandwiches, mac and cheese, and various fruits and veggies.

This book asks children to play with it. Families will be able to come up with their own challenges for one another since the book has 4,000 combinations. Turn all the way to the end and all of the sections end with empty plates and a few crumbs.

Clever and fun, you won’t be able to stop playing with this one. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams Appleseed.

Review: Small World by Ishta Mercurio

Small World by Ishta Mercurio

Small World by Ishta Mercurio, illustrated by Jen Corace (9781419734076)

Nanda was born into the circle of her mother’s loving arms. As she grew, her world grew too. It grew to include more circles, branches in trees, blocks, steel, and cogs. Her world got bigger as she traveled to college where she built her own helicopter and then became a pilot. Her world continued to grow as she roared into the atmosphere aboard a space shuttle. She was bigger than she had ever been before when she stood on the moon’s surface and looked at the stars above her and Earth glowing in the sky.

Mercurio’s prose plays with perspective right from the first pages. She also includes shapes and components of engineering into Nanda’s childhood. A girl fascinated with science and engineering becomes an astronaut in this book that offers an inspiring look at a girl who grows up as her world grows around her.

The illustrations play with shapes on every page, from the patterns of trees and their branches to the quilt below plane wings made up of farmland. Even the stars above form circles at the end of the book along with Earth, guiding readers right back to the circle that the book started with.

An inspiring look at a young girl of Indian descent who reaches the stars. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams Books for Young Readers.

 

3 Picture Books that Celebrate Community

Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hena Khan

Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini (9781452155418)

A superb concept book that has a definite Muslim flair that is very welcome. The rhyming story opens with the cone-shaped tops of the minaret. Rectangle is the mosque’s door. Then readers get invited in to see octagon fountains, arches, triangles formed by stairs. The book moves on to gardens, a shared meal at an oval table. It ends with a crescent moon in the sky.

I appreciate that this concept book about shapes offers many shapes that are not the expected ones like cones and crescents. Add in the focus on diversity that is inherent on each page, and this book is certainly something special. The book includes Muslim terms that are used in the text and then defined in the glossary at the end of the book. The illustrations are modern and bright, a mix of tradition and modernity that shines on the page. The shapes are clear and easily found in each image. A gem of a picture book that belongs in all collections. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.)

Pie Is for Sharing by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard

Pie Is for Sharing by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard, illustrated by Jason Chin (9781626725621)

Join a family on their Fourth of July celebration at the lake, complete with pie for everyone to share. There are other things that are perfect for sharing too, like a book, a ball and a tree. How about sharing a jump rope and a rhyme to skip by? As the book progresses, more and more children play together along the shore and even more things are shared. There are stick and stones, boats and water, stories, hugs and hideouts. And in the end, fireworks and another slice of pie!

This Fourth of July book truly looks at the holiday through the eyes of a child. It is lit by sparklers and fireworks as evening comes, but the day itself is brightened by all of the time spent as a family and a community. New friends are made; old friendships are strengthened. The illustrations are particularly lovely. They use child-height perspectives as well as other inventive ones to really see the holiday from a little-one’s point of view. The illustrations are realistic, sun filled and pure summer on a page.

Share this one any day of the year! Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.)

You_re Safe with Me by Chitra Soundar

You’re Safe with Me by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry (9781911373292)

On a dark and stormy night, the little animals could not call asleep. Mama Elephant stayed with them. She rocked them in her trunk, repeating “You’re safe with me.” The wind moaned in the trees, awakening the little animals. Mama Elephant explained that the wind carries seeds from faraway into the forest. Thunder sounded startling the little animals. Mama Elephant explained that with thunder comes the rain that waters the seeds from the wind. Lightning flashed and Mama Elephant soothed the little animals with tales of the stars coming back to the sky. Finally, the river burbled and the little ones fell asleep with Mama Elephant’s refrain of “You’re safe with me.”

Told in a folklore-like style with repeating refrains and a firm story structure, this picture book carries the feeling of India with it. It carries a traditional feel, the warmth of Mama Elephant and the comfort she brings with her simple presence almost erases the storm. She uses the cycles of life, plant and animal, to reassure the little animals which makes for a rich story.

The illustrations are amazing and also have a traditional feel to them. Filled with small dots, they are deep with spice and jungle colors. Their richness creates images that children will love to look at, discovering the animals almost hidden on the pages between the leaves of the forest.

A superb bedtime book just right for stormy nights. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from copy provided by Lantana Publishing.)

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.)

Round by Joyce Sidman

Round by Joyce Sidman

Round by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo (9780544387614, Amazon)

This simple picture book looks at things in life that are round. A little girl explores her world, seeing all of the things that are round. It is much more than a list of round items, speaking to the joy of round things, the feel of them in the hand, and the way that they appear again and again particularly in nature. There is the roundness of seeds, the round center of flowers, the round circles inside of trees, and the rounded stones in the ocean. Throughout the book, the little girl experiences each of these and finds that she too can become round sometimes with friends and sometimes all on her own.

Sidman captures the joy of experiencing nature and discovering shapes there. This book is specifically about circles and rounded shapes, making it very appropriate for toddlers who are just learning about shapes. The text is simple and friendly, inviting youngsters to find round things in their own world. Text at the end of the book speaks to why we see so many round things in nature.

The illustrations by Yoo add to the feeling of being invited along on a journey of discovery outdoors. Yoo’s illustrations show the little girl, her dog and her father exploring together. Yoo lets readers see up close when appropriate and then back away to show large expanses when that works best.

A simple look at circles in nature, this picture book is a great invitation to head outside and find your own shapes. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray, illustrated by Brian Collier (InfoSoup)

Various shapes are shown in a vibrant urban city in this picture book. A young girl walks through the city, takes public transportation and notices shapes as she goes. There are the squares of boxes and trucks. Rectangles form glass on the skyscrapers, windows and benches. Triangles are flags and sails. Wheels are circles along with manhole covers. Musical instruments in a band show oval shapes in their drums and lights. Diamonds fly as kites and stars fill the night sky. The girl returns home to bed, just as the pigeon who took flight on the first page returns to her nest, both listening to the noises of the city around them.

This dynamic picture book celebrates the beauty of urban life, the movement and rush of it all, the variety you find there. Seen through the lens of finding shapes in real life, this picture book would be a great way to look outside your own windows and see shapes there too. The bright friendliness of the city streets makes for a refreshing picture book. The text reads as a poem, filled with rhymes and rhythms that match the city setting.

Collier’s illustrations are a gorgeous mix of media, incorporating collage in a way that makes the shapes stand out but also fit into the setting too. It’s very cleverly done. The little girl in the book is based on Collier’s own young daughter. Her face is filled with enthusiasm throughout the book, her attitude wonderfully contagious.

A beautiful, colorful and shape-ly book that celebrates urban life. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

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: Wednesday by Anne Bertier

wednesday

Wednesday by Anne Bertier

Little Round and Big Square are the best of friends.  Every week on Wednesday, they get together to play their favorite game: one of them says a word and they both transform into it.  Big Square starts with “butterfly” and the two of them change into butterflies, Big Square with sharp angles and Little Round with half circles.  They go through “flower” and “mushroom” until Big Square gets carried away and starts naming lots of different things all at once, things that Little Round can’t shift into.  Soon the friends are arguing, but just like with any friendship there are rough patches and they both have to figure out how to fix it. 

Done in just two colors, the dot and the square and the many shapes they make pop on the page, the blue and orange contrasting vibrantly on the white background.  It is the illustrations that tell the story here, and the strong style they are done in is striking.  Children will immediately relate to both the square and the circle.  They may not have faces, but they convey emotions clearly on the page from anger to exuberance to friendship. 

Strong and vibrant, this picture book translated from the French, is a great pick for units on friendship or shapes.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.

Review: Windblown by Édouard Manceau

windblown

Windblown by Édouard Manceau

Scraps of paper blow across the page, first one then several appear.  But what are they and whose are they?  First the chicken insists they are his since he found them.  Then the fish says that he cut them from the paper.  Then the bird, the snail and the frog explain that they are theirs as well.  Each animal fits them to their body to demonstrate why they belong to them.  Then the wind itself speaks about blowing the pieces around and offers them to the reader, “What will you do?” 

Superbly simple and entirely engaging, readers will be playing along with the book before they even open the pages.  Manceau has cleverly selected shapes that fit together in many different ways.  He demonstrates this over and over again, then turns it all over to the reader to continue. 

This is also a book that would make a great art project for little ones.  Share the book, then give each child the pieces shown in the story to make their own picture.  An ideal way to end a creative story time.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.