Two Dogs on a Trike by Gabi Snyder, illustrated by Robin Rosenthal (9781419738913)
Count up to ten with the help of a lot of dogs and one sneaky cat in this picture book. One dog is alone, but soon joins another dog on a trike. They become three dogs on a scooter, four on a bike. Then five dogs on a trolley and six on a train. Seven on a ferry and eight on a plane, then nine dogs in a hot-air balloon. Ten dogs in a UFO? Wait! Is that a cat? Soon the dogs are moving back through the vehicles, decreasing by one each time, until there are two cats on a trike.
Told very simply, this book has a wonderful fast pace that makes it great fun to share aloud. The vehicles are varied and interesting, making each page turn a surprise. The rhymes are gentle and add to the wildness of the book at just the right moments. The art is graphic and strong, the dogs silly and varied with googly eyes. Readers will see the cat right from the start, which creates a tug of anticipation through the entire first part of the book.
A great book that happens to have counting too. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams Appleseed.
I Can Be Anything by Shinsuke Yoshitake (9781452180380)
At bedtime, a little girl insists that her mother play a guessing game with her. She pretends to be something and her mother must guess what she is. Her mother is reluctant and it’s clear that the little girl has gotten grumpy playing this game in the past. Readers will soon realize that this is a much more difficult game than they might have thought! The mother makes logical guesses but each time is wrong as the little girl pretends to be everything from an omelette to Mount Fuji. By the end of the game, the little girl is very tired and finally falls asleep in the middle of acting something out. Readers and the mother wonder what that might have been.
Yoshitake takes a classic moment in childhood and makes it priceless. She captures both the tired mother and the dynamic child deftly in this clever picture book. The mother getting everything wrong is pitch perfect as is the little girl’s building frustration with the situation. The relationship between them is quietly loving and filled with acceptance. The art in the book is simple and effective, showing the little girl’s version of the object and then an image of the actual thing.
Just right for all children trying to avoid bedtime. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.
Beehive by Jorey Hurley (9781481470032)
This simple picture book focuses on bees and beehives. The book follows bees that explore the area, find a hollow tree just right for a new hive, and build there. They lay eggs and then care for and feed the immature bees. They sometimes need to defend the hive from predators too. When the new generation of bees emerges, they go right to work too, continuing to care for and build up the hive.
Told in single words, the story really plays out in the illustrations which are done in Hurley’s distinctive style. Her simple text is just right for very small children learning about bees and the environment. Hurley’s author note cleverly uses the single words within the book as a structure for more information on bees as well as a comment about the recent decline in bee populations. The digital art is strong and has large shapes that will work very well with a group of preschoolers.
Buzzy and busy, this book is a glimpse into the life of bees. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Simon & Schuster.
My First Busy World by Eric Carle (9781534443914)
Beloved author, Eric Carle, brings us a board book to explore and touch. The pages are filled with special cut outs, a mirror to look at yourself in, and textures. There are flaps to lift, sparkly elements, and windows to look through. The book is also filled with elements that are labeled. These are basic things like different foods, what you see outside, and what is in your bedroom. Parents can also talk about colors, the child’s own family members, and much more along the way.
Just right for the youngest of children, this board book is done in a larger format than most. The design is one that invites talking about what is on the page with little children. They are encouraged to count stars, touch different items, and explore the universe inside the book fully. Done in a robust format, the book will stand up nicely to use in a public library setting too.
An inviting book to explore. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy provided by Little Simon.
Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Blanca Gomez (9780525553816)
Told in simple rhymes, this book invites the youngest children to explore its pages and engage with the questions asked inside. The book begins with houses, including a little tree house for the tiny mouse. Colors are explored and then there is counting on the next page combined with more colors. The book takes readers on a bus, into the ocean, on all sorts of transportation, and asks engaging questions of the reader along the way. The book ends by inviting readers to look for the mouse hiding in every illustration.
This picture book’s jaunty rhymes are reminiscent of classic children’s books like Go Dog Go! The way that children are invited to engage with the book is wonderful and will help parents new to sharing books with children understand the sorts of questions that can be asked about the images in any picture book. Gomez’s illustrations are full of pure and bright colors that leap from the page, glowing with red, green, blue, orange and pink. The people on the pages are diverse and the urban setting where most of the book takes place is busy and friendly.
Engaging and fun, this book is best shared with only a few children so their perspectives can be heard. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Dial Books.
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.
Who’s the Biggest? by Delphine Chedru (9780500651490)
This is a very simple picture book that is all about size and teaches the concepts of bigger and smaller. The book focuses on which animal is bigger, comparing one to another. One each page, one of the animals declares “I am!” There are big things on the page like elephants and trees. Then there are also smaller objects like flowers and bees to compare. The book is just right for very small children to learn the concept in a positive and fast-paced way. As mentioned in the book, with a little creativity, the book can be read to say which one is smallest too.
Chedru’s text is simple, yet she plays with some of the phrases, making sure that each animal speaks in their own distinct way. The illustrations are strong and graphical with deep colors combined with bright ones that burst on the page. Even though the story has a strong structure, there are surprises on each page with the page turn.
A book worth exploring with toddlers. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from library copy.
New Shoes by Chris Raschka (9780062657527)
A child has worn out their old shoes. They have couple of holes in them, big enough to put in a finger. Big enough that water can come in. The child heads off with their mommy to the shoe store. Their feet are measured and are bigger than before. New shoes are chosen off of the display wall. The yellow shoes pinch a bit. The red shoes are comfortable. The child heads off running outside and finds a friend to show their new shoes to.
Written very simply in the child’s voice, this book speaks to the joy of new shoes after wearing a pair out. It is the perspective of the illustrations that make this book so unique and special. Shown only from the child’s point of view looking down towards their feet, the illustrations focus on what the child sees. It’s endearing and very personal. A delight of a picture book for the youngest children, this one will make a great board book too. Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Toesy Toes by Sarah Tsiang (9781459813427)
This board book focuses entirely on toes and the joy of discovering them. With a diverse cast of children in the vivid and charming photographs that fill the pages, this one is a great pick for the smallest children. The book has a simple format, bright colors and a rollicking rhythm that keeps the pace brisk and lively. Sure to have everyone playing with their own toes! Appropriate for ages 1-2. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Wee Beasties: Huggy the Python Hugs Too Hard by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths (9781534410800)
A lovely light-hearted board book that tells the story of a python who just can’t seem to hug things without squeezing them far too hard. Huggy tries to hug a balloon with an explosive result. The mess is even larger when he shows how much he loves cake. When a puppy enters the story though, it’s time for young readers to demonstrate a very gentle hug in the hopes that Huggy will be able to imitate them. Dyckman is an author who always gets her tone for young readers just right and this is no exception. Expect lots of toddler giggles with this one! One of those special board books that has a real story arc, this one is funny and filled with love. Appropriate for ages 1-2. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Rodzilla by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Dan Santat (9781481457798, Amazon)
An enormous chubby monster is heading for the city! News crews are reporting on the disaster as the monster releases stink-ray farts. There are slime missiles of snot and even one big upset tummy effect. Hoses try to push him from the city, but it just ends in a belly flop. But the monster gets back up and continues his rampage. Until two brave people are willing to take on the disaster directly, by picking the terrible toddler up.
Sanders channels Japanese monster films in his text, offering just the right tone of awe and fear into the text. The book is great fun to share aloud, using an announcer voice that just makes the humor even funnier. Sanders offers just enough gross moments for children to be engaged and then moves on to other sources of humor. The switch from monster to toddler is also well handled and will not surprise readers who have been given clear hints about the end.
Santat uses his signature style here. The reactions of the people on the ground to Rodney’s gross emissions is particularly effective, as they run in fear or try to survive. Santat’s illustrations also offer clues to Rodney actually being a human toddler, ones that become more clear as the text progresses.
A funny look at the destructive nature of toddlers that will be appreciated by older siblings and parents alike. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Margaret K. McElderry Books.