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.
Mine! by Jeff Mack (9781452152349, Amazon)
Two mice discover a large rock that they both want to own. What ensues is a one-word argument back and forth between them and an ever-escalating battle of dominance. The mice use cheese to tempt each other along with wrapped gifts. Other rocks also play a role and pile around the bigger rock. There are walls of rock, knocked down by a wrecking ball. Finally, the two mice are together on the rock, arguing with one another. That’s when the ending takes a great twist.
Mack has a delightful sense of humor and timing in this picture book. The writing could not be simpler, with only one word being used in the entire book. The illustrations work particularly well with their limited palette and bright colors. They have the feel of the vintage Spy vs. Spy, with the two mice in their distinct colors battling one another. There are sneaky attacks and all out blasts. It’s a wild look at the hazards of not sharing.
Great for toddlers learning about sharing, reading this aloud will have you shouting “Mine!” in all sorts of tones. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.
I Got a New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards (9780399557019, Amazon)
A little girl gets a new puppy and the two of them work to become friends. At first the puppy is scared, but she quickly becomes more friendly. The two play outside together, nap on the chair after making a mess, and sometimes get stinky. The puppy gets lost and then found again. They get dirty and wash up. They make noise and give tons of kisses and hugs.
Edwards uses frank and simple text to tell the story of the two new friends in this book. The little girl narrates the book and tells it from her point of view. The illustrations though show the entire story which is that she is getting just as dirty as the puppy, making just as much noise and eating just as sloppily. This clever twist adds to the pleasure of reading the book and will be enjoyed by young readers.
A warm welcome to a new pet, this picture book is a celebration of newfound friends. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Knopf Books for Young Readers.
Is That Wise Pig? by Jan Thomas (InfoSoup)
Cow, Pig and Mouse are all making soup together. Mouse adds one onion, Cow adds two cabbages, but Pig tries to add three umbrellas! The other two ask Pig if that is wise. Then Mouse adds four tomatoes, Cow adds five potatoes, and Pig tries to add six galoshes. Is that wise? More ingredients go in and Pig even adds nine carrots! Then Pig reveals that she asked ten friends to join them, something that probably was not wise. Suddenly Pig’s galoshes and umbrellas make a lot of sense as the soup flies!
As always, Thomas completely understands the farcical humor that toddlers adore. Children will be so engaged in laughing at Pig’s ingredients that they won’t see the ending coming until the reveal. There is also a counting component to the book that is subtly done and the book feels much more like a story than one teaching numbers. Thomas’ illustrations will work well with a crowd, projecting easily even to those in the back thanks to their strong black lines and simple colors.
Expect lots of requests for seconds of this silly book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.
Eat, Sleep, Poop by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Jane Massey (InfoSoup)
This funny picture book about the life of a baby is just right for toddlers and slightly older siblings of new babies. The life of a baby is not easy at all. There’s a lot to fit into the day: eating, sleeping and pooping. If a day gets too hectic though, baby can always cut back on sleep to compensate, much to the chagrin of his parents. Then the routine can go back to normal, filled with eating, sleeping, pooping and plenty of love.
Penfold uses plenty of puns and word play in this picture book that will invite laughter and nods from families dealing with a new baby. The text here is very simple, just enough to keep the humor of the situation at the forefront and allow new siblings to understand that this is what all babies do, all day long. There is a strong focus too on love and support and by the end of the book, the tiny baby has grown into a toddler themselves though their routine hasn’t changed much yet.
Massey’s illustrations underscore the importance of a loving family as the backdrop to the infant’s story. She also includes a dog in the family, one who is displaced by the baby and has to learn to cope with the new focus on the baby. The illustrations are bright and friendly with a doting extended family who all participate in baby care.
A warm and funny look at new infants, this book will be welcomed by families who have their own eating, sleeping, pooping machine. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.
When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek (InfoSoup)
So I admit that I waited for spring to actually come to Wisconsin before I reviewed this and that means that even now I am being optimistic that it has finally arrived even though it was in the 30s here overnight. But even if you are almost headed into summer, this is a great book to share in early, mid and late spring. Written at a level just right for toddlers, this book shares the transformation that spring bring us. Bare trees become covered in blossoms and leaves. Snowmen disappear. Puddles appear. Grass turns from brown to green (with flowers). Gardens grow and soon there is green everywhere, breezes, robins and worms.
Henkes’ writing is made to share aloud with small children. His verse doesn’t rhyme but it has a great natural rhythm to it that makes the book almost sing. The joy here is in the exploration of the changing season, one that brings a certain beauty with it, a freshness. Henkes captures the turning of the season, the aspects of early spring all the way through to almost-summer and he does it in a way that shows small children what they can see and experience themselves.
Dronzek’s illustrations are big and bright and simple. She moves from the lighter colors of early spring through to the bold robustness of near summer. The images change too, moving from small images surrounded by white to double-page spreads that run right to the edge of the pages and seem to spill over with the bounty of late spring.
A gorgeous book for the smallest of children, this is a triumphant toddler look at spring. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins Publishers.
Here are some of my favorite board books that I discovered this spring:
Hello, World! is a new series of board books that look at nonfiction topics in a way that is suitable for the youngest of children. I appreciate that the two books take very different approaches to their subjects. Solar System offers information about each of the planets in our solar system, naming them in order and giving a little fact about each one. Weather takes a more child-focused approach showing the types of clothes a child would wear for each kind of weather. Each book offers bright-colored illustrations that are playful and inviting.
Reviewed from copies received from Doubleday.
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett
This gorgeous board book looks at the various things in a little girl’s life that make her happy. From smelling bannock in the oven to singing and dancing. The book also includes lots of being outdoors, such as walking in the grass barefoot and feeling the sun on your face. Though the experiences are universal, the book focuses on a Native American little girl and her family. The illustrations are simply superb. They exude a gentleness and depict a loving family experiencing happy moments together.
Reviewed from library copy.
Shhh! I’m Sleeping by Dorothee de Monfried
Eight dogs are asleep in bunk beds until Popov starts snoring. Two of the dogs wake up and turn on their lights. They agree that Misha will read a story. Steadily, one dog after another awakens and soon they all have things they need to do. One needs a toy, another a drink of water, another wants to switch beds. In the end, everyone but Popov makes their way up to Misha’s bed for a story and fall asleep together. Then it is Popov’s turn to wake up. Cleverly done, the thin and tall format works particularly well with the subject matter, offering a perspective just right for very tall bunk beds. The timing is also nicely done with each page turn showing a new dog waking up. The ending too is satisfying with just the right amount of gentle humor. A great bedtime (or morning) pick.
Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.