Leo Lionni’s Who?, What?, When?, and Where?

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Who?, What?, When?, and Where?: Four fabulous board books from the late Caldecott Honor Winner Leo Lionni are simple yet oh so satisfying for babies to toddlers. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014; $5.99, Ages 0-3)

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IWhat?-cvr.jpgt’s easy to see Lionni’s Modernist roots and graphic design background when you turn the pages of any of these four books. In Who?, What?, When? and Where?, his signature torn paper artwork combined with graphic elements are visually delightful. The gray mice look as though they were created from boiled wool, and fans of Lionni’s classic, Frederick, will find these board books a perfect intro to his body of work.

With just 16 pages, these four question-themed board books are asking to be shared with your youngsters When?-cvr.jpgWhere?-cvr.jpgso they can explore the world with beginning concepts. The parent and child mice first look at different animals in Who? including a fluffy squirrel, a slow turtle, a hungry rabbit, a curious chicken, a big owl and a sharp porcupine. In What? there’s a bit more humor infused in the marriage of artwork and text as little ones are asked to guess what objects they’re looking at: “Let’s make a call.” (a phone), “Do you see what I see?” (a pair of eyeglasses) and a chuckle inducing, “Dinner time!” has to be cheese. In When? the seasons and times of day are featured and I’ll admit this one is my personal favorite because the images are especially rich and colorful, particularly for fall. I also like that daytime and nighttime are included in the mix. Some of the questions posed are:

“When does it snow?”

“When do the flowers bloom?”

“When do the stars shine?”

In Where? it’s all about location, location, location. And kids’ll get a kick out of all the different places where the mice can be found. Whether they’re up high, popping out or squeezed inside, Lionni’s mice are cute and curious, just like toddlers. These short, sweet, and accessible board books are an appealing and interesting approach to early concepts.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 


Jim Hensons PAJANIMALS Bedtime Books

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Pajanimals logoI’m a huge Jim Henson fan so when I received these new Pajanimals bedtime board books (some even include my fave – reusable stickers!) and paperbacks from Running Press Kids, I knew I had to share them all with you. The best part about this new collection is that they provide parents with ideal reading material for toddlers dealing with concerns and fears quite common for their developmental stage.

The writing in all the Pajanimals bedtime books is upbeat, easy flowing and each colorful book focuses on a way to tackle the title’s issue in a comforting way whether it be about jealousy, nightmares or waking up on the wrong side of the bed. For instance in Sweet Pea Sue Misses Mom and Dad, Sweet Pea would rather sleep with Mom and Dad than spend the night in her own room. However after a quick visit to the Moon with her pals Squacky, Cowbella and Apollo, and a thoughtful question from the Moon, Sweet Pea Sue solves the dilemma herself. I sure wish books like these had been available 18 years ago when my oldest daughter faced many of the same challenges. Children will be able to relate to their favorite TV characters and parents will be thankful for an easy, affordable way to discuss otherwise tricky topics. The books’ size makes them easy to take along on vacations or outings. Why not also consider giving them as a gift because, when paired with another Pajanimals product, they’d certainly please most any toddler you know!

PAJANIMALS PAPERBACKS

Jim Henson's Pajanimals Bedtime BooksApollo Has a Bad Day – $4.95

Lots of things are going wrong for Apollo today. When he is feeling too angry and sad to sleep, he and the Pajanimals travel to The Night Sky. The Moon reminds Apollo that though there are bad days, tomorrow is always a brand new day. 

 

Jim Henson's Pajanimals Bedtime BooksSquacky Is Afraid of the Dark – $4.95

Squacky is afraid to go to sleep in the dark. Luckily the rest of the Pajanimals know just what to do! They travel to The Night Sky where the Moon reminds Squacky that he is always shining bright in the sky and watching over the Pajanimals.

 

SMALL FORMAT BOARD BOOKS

Jim Henson's Pajanimals Bedtime BooksSweet Pea Sue Misses Mom and Dad – $6.95

Sweet Pea Sue can’t sleep because she wants to be in Mom and Dad’s bed. When the Pajanimals travel to the Moon, she remembers that Mom and Dad are always close by if she needs them, and that Moon is always there watching over them.

 

Jim Henson's Pajanimals Bedtime BooksCowbella and the Bad Dream– $6.95

Cowbella is afraid she’s going to have a bad dream and doesn’t want to go to sleep. The Pajanimals travel to the Friendly Forest where Jerry the bear assures Cowbella that if her imagination can think up scary thoughts, it can also make happy thoughts! So she learns to only think of happy things before she goes to sleep.

 

BOARD BOOKS/12 pages (Includes reusable stickers – warning: small parts. Not for children under 3 years)

Jim Henson's Pajanimals Bedtime BooksIt’s Apollo’s Special Day – $7.95

Tomorrow is Apollo’s Birthday and the Pajanimals are excited to celebrate—all except for Cowbella. She wishes that it was her Birthday so she can get all the cake and presents. But when they visit Mr. Happy Birthday at Birthday Land, Cowbella discovers that the fun part about a Birthday party is spending time with the ones you love.

 

Jim Henson's Pajanimals Bedtime BooksSweet Pea Sue Makes a New Friend – $7.95

Sweet Pea Sue can’t sleep because she’s scared of a picture of an octopus she saw in a book. When the Pajanimals go to the Big, Blue Sea, they meet Ellie, a real octopus. To Sweet Pea Sue’s surprise, Ellie is scared of the Pajanimals. The two realize that there’s nothing to be afraid of because they just want to be friends.

 

Jim Henson's Pajanimals Bedtime BooksSquacky and The Gift of Christmas – $7.95

The Pajanimals are excited that Christmas is coming! Squacky really hopes he gets the new Fantastic Splash Super Sub, but then becomes worried that Santa won’t bring it. The Pajanimals travel to The Night Sky where the Moon reminds Squacky that Christmas isn’t about the presents you get, it’s about spending time with the ones you love and sharing Christmas traditions together.

To find out more about the Pajanimals, see their TV schedule, see videos, get activities and craft ideas plus enter contests, visit Sprout here.


Picture Window Books’ Little Dinos Series

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9781404875364Four new glossy board books in Picture Window Books’ Hello Genius series ($7.99, capstoneyoungreaders.com, ages 2-4) teach positive behavior, good manners and first words in just 20 sturdy, brightly colored and boldly illustrated pages.

Little Dinos Don’t Yell, Little Dinos Don’t Push, Little Dinos Don’t Bite and Little Dinos Don’t Hit are all books I would have loved to set out on my coffee table before playgroup when my kids were toddlers and preschoolers. Naturally mine weren’t the ones doing the yelling, pushing, biting or hitting, but some other little dinos we knew sure were testing their limits!

In very simple, straightforward language, author Michael Dahl conveys the message parents may be hoping to teach their children when selecting these kinds of books. Here’s an example from Little Dinos Don’t Yell:

9781404879126“ROAR!”

“Your voice is LOUD and STRONG, Little Dino! But be careful with your booming voice.”

Illustrator Adam Record’s easily identifiable artwork shows shattered plates on a dining room breakfront so children see an immediate cause and effect. The large fonts and few words per page make it easy for youngsters to follow along and recognize first words. Using family members like sisters, brothers, and grandparents in each story will help to make learning the lessons more realistic and less intimidating.

97814048753339781404875340These affordable books combine humor with important social skills and make learning these everyday life lessons more palatable and colorful for our kids whether they’re really getting pushed, bitten, hit or yelled at or just reading about them in books.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel


Introducing Play-Doh Brand Board Books

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Rita Zobayan reviews the new

Play-Doh: Where Learning and Creativity Take Shape series.

Counting Bunnies, Making Shapes with Monkey, Mama’s Little Ducklings, Rainbow Butterflies ($6.95 each) and Let’s Get Creative Jumbo Sticker Book ($12.95) are written by Michele Boyd and illustrated/digitally composed by Kara Kenna; ages 0-3; Silver Dolphin Books

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For many children, Play-Doh is a gateway for letting their imaginations come to life. Want to swim under the sea even though you live nowhere near the ocean? Sculpt some fish and a reef, and you have your own underwater world. Play-Doh has taken the creativity of its products, added a serious cuteness factor, and produced the sturdy Where Learning and Creativity Take Shape board book series, ideal for children three years and older (Silver Dolphin Books, 2013; $6.95 each). Each book is brightly colored with digitally composed illustrations of Play-Doh creations.  You’ll want to reach out and touch the pictures that seem like real Play-Doh creations.  The text is simple and fun.

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Counting Bunnies features a group of adorable bunnies counting from one to ten. Each page consists of the target number prominently displayed along with explanatory text and a number sense question (for example, What other groups of six do you see?). And, of course, let’s not forget the growing number of bunnies who do everything from talking on phones to growing dizzy on a merry-go-round to splashing in a pool.

212-380-Product_LargeToMediumImage-thumbMaking Shapes with Monkey includes a simple rhyme scheme with Monkey and his friends identifying basic shapes: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, and diamond. Silly friend Squirrel stopped by to say, “Can you make me a special kite today?” There are colorful shapes in the sky. Can you name the shapes soaring up so high?  The shapes are embedded into the pictures, making it fun for the young reader to spot. What shapes make up the flowers? The bird house is made from which five shapes?

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212-374-Product_LargeToMediumImage-thumbRainbow Butterflies introduces the colors of the rainbows plus perennial favorite, pink. Each color features a hidden butterfly and a finding question (for example, What other yellow things do you see?) on pages choc-full of colored creatures and items. Now we spy with our little eyes the lovely orange butterfly. Not to mention the orange cat, sun, balloon, flowers, and butterflies.

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212-375-Product_LargeToMediumImage-thumbMama’s Little Ducklings is a lift-the-flap book that tells the story of Mama Duck as she readies for her eggs to hatch and then realizes one is missing! (The mischievous egg rolled away!) Follow Mama and her colorful crew as they ask their fellow creatures if they can help.   Mama Duck and her four ducklings waddled down the path and into the river. “Has anyone seen my missing egg?” asked Mama Duck. “Not here,” said the fish with a glug-glug-glug! If little eyes look carefully, they will see the yellow polka-dotted egg hiding in each section.

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212-383-Product_LargeToMediumImage-thumbThe Let’s Get Creative Jumbo Sticker Book ($12.95) features over 300 reusable stickers in eight different sections—Building Blocks, All about Animals, Under the Sea Surprises, Travel and Adventure!, Let’s Go to School, At Home, Fun with Food, and Exploring Nature. There are plenty of pages to create your own scenes, as well as pages with guided themes. To add to the fun (and, ssshhh, learning), there are question-and-answer and suggestion pages that encourage critical thinking. Boy or girl, whatever their interests, there is something for everyone in this jumbo book of sticker fun!

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Pachyderms Aplenty

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Rita Zobayan reviews 2 new elephantastic books.

When you think of animals playing hide-and-seek, which ones come to mind? A chameleon, certainly. A monkey, leopard or tiger, perhaps. But a large, hulking elephant? Not so much. Summoning strong imaginations, two authors have placed playful pachyderms in a favorite children’s game.

Salina Yoon has written and illustrated a darling board book, Where’s Ellie?: A Hide-and-Seek Book  ($6.99, Robin Corey Books) for little ones aged 0-3. Ellie and her friends—caterpillar, ladybug, rabbit, lizard and squirrel—are playing a game of hide-and-seek. Young readers will search for Ellie and her peek-a-boo trunk in familiar settings, only to be surprised at what they find instead. The simple but colorful illustrations are fun to view. At 16 pages, the book is long enough to hold a youngster’s attention and short enough for parents to read over and over again, which they probably will have to do if their kids are anything like mine.

Hide & Seek  ($15.99, Alfred A. Knopf Books, ages 2-5) by Il Sung Na is a counting book that also features an elephant playing hide and seek, but this time Elephant is the seeker. The other animals must find places to hide; where will they go?! Flamingo wants to make sure that Elephant isn’t cheating. Gorilla thinks carefully about his hiding spot. “10! Ready or not, here I come!” cries Elephant, and the search is on! Na uses rich, bright colors and various art techniques to create a visually spectacular picture book. The animals’ expressions are adorable, and children will enjoy counting the butterflies that accompany Elephant on the search. Like elephants, children will not forget—to read Hide & Seek that is.


Counting and Colors The BabyLit Classics Way

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Today Karen B. Estrada weighs in on the incredibly cool BabyLit board book series from Gibbs Smith ($9.99, ages 1 and up).

As an English teacher, I was excited when I saw the BabyLit series and happened upon the Little Master Stoker and Little Master Dickens books. I was not sure quite what to expect from these durable cardboard baby books which purport to introduce young children to classic literature; to be honest, I was skeptical. But when the books arrived, I was instantly delighted.

In Little Master Stoker’s Dracula: A BabyLit Counting Primer  and Little Master Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit Colors Primer, author Jennifer Adams and artist Alison Oliver creatively summarize key elements of two classic works of literature. The “art” in these books is just that—scenes that go beyond simple illustration. In Dracula, edgy double-page spreads

utilizing a red, purple, black, gray, and white color palate make the 19th century classic seem contemporary and fresh. The story begins with “1 castle” and moves through counting up to 10 using relevant and important aspects of the actual novel. While the book does not really tell the story of Dracula—not that it is a story you’d want to read to your infant or toddler anyway—it offers enough details to familiarize them somewhat with elements of the story. When your child comes across Dracula again as a teen or an adult, perhaps he will recall the 1 castle and 2 friends who read 7 letters and diaries in the Little Master Stoker book he read as a child.

In A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit Colors Primer, equally punchy illustrations depict an image in which the color of an object tells the story. While I felt Dracula more closely related to the actual novel, the images and colors in A Christmas Carol will nonetheless provide your child with the same familiarity of this classic work of literature. Share the story now with your  youngster to foster an appreciation for Dickens’ complete version in the future. In other words, if you are looking for some wonderful, timeless holiday reading that is appropriate for your child who is just learning numbers and colors, check out the Baby Lit Little Masters series by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver. Like the original novels, these books should be on your shelves!

 


All Treat, No Trick Halloween Giveaway Part 2

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Did you read yesterday’s post when we introduced a fun fall giveaway? In order to be eligible to win, go back and check out yesterday’s review and then, after reading today’s as well, enter if you dare. You just might be the winner of over $150 worth of Halloween books!

Halloween’s just 22 days away! And to get the excitement brewing, we’re giving away a bunch of books for boys and ghouls (and one for parents as well) to enjoy before their big night out. Scroll to the bottom for more info after reading all the reviews.

Vampirina Ballerina writtten ($14.99, Disney/Hyperion Books, ages 2-6) by Anne Marie Pace with pictures by LeUyen Pham, is wicked and whimsical with arabesques and a twist. Pace takes a typical budding ballerina tale and turns it on its head in the best possible way! Add the plethora of vampiralicious puns coupled with killer artwork from the ever talented Pham, and this ballerina picture book rises above the others, or should I say flies, soars and sweeps? If Vampirina just follows her mom’s advice (remembering not to turn into a bat or trip on her cape to name a few), she’ll achieve her goal. Fangs a lot for this fab read.

The Secret History of Hobgoblins ($16.99, Candlewick, ages 8 and up) by Professor Ari Berk had me at Hob! I have been fascinated by the lore of of these little folk since falling for J.K. Rowling’s Dobby so it came as no surprise that I found myself studying every last word on each elaborate page. The old-world style in which the book is presented will no doubt capture your child’s attention as it did mine. Full of detailed artwork in color and black and white, fold-out spreads, flaps to flip and facts to glean, The Secret History of Hobgoblins (is that a tongue twister?) fascinates as it entertains. We learn from the book’s opening that the Secret Folk (who thrive on hospitality and domestic order) are sharing their privately held practices with us in order to “herald a swift return to the hospitable practices of the past.” Hear! Hear! Learn about where they live, what their spells and charms are and how to peacefully cohabit with them. Frankly, while I could really use a hobgoblin at home, I must resign myself to just reading about them in Berk’s engaging new book.

The Monster Alphabet ($7.99, Price, Stern, Sloan, ages 3-7) by Michael P. Spradlin and illustrated by Jeff Weigel provides a field day for monster hunters like narrator Morgan Marvin Marshall. This intrepid traveler will take children around the world searching for monsters from A-Z. There’s the Abominable Snowman hiding in the mountains of Nepal, the Ogre found “most everywhere” and Zombies (aka living dead) who will “eat the brains straight from your head,” and Spradlin’s monster hunting Marshall will find them all. Now I am not sure I want to read this to a 3-year-old at bedtime, but with the light-hearted illustrations that definitely don’t scare, I certainly would not hesitate to illuminate my little one about gargoyles, hydras and imps around Halloween. And it’s told in uncomplicated rhyme, too. Kids may even find a bit of costume inspiration from Weigel’s artwork. Bonus feature: For each alphabet letter illustrated, there are 3 hidden objects beginning with the same letter to be found on every page.

Haunted Castle ($15.95, AZBooks, ages 5 and up) by Nadezhda Shumovich is the perfect Halloween book for pop-up book fans. It’s Halloween night in a small village where threesome Nick, little Alex and Kristy find themselves bored after their local trick or treating is soon finished. Kristy suggests they visit the castle at the forest’s edge for some more exciting entertainment. Who should greet them when they arrive but a vampire butler along with a slew of other costumed party goers or so they think! It’s not until they notice no mirror reflections of these dressed up ghouls that the kids realize they might be the biggest treat at this gathering. Some quick thinking saves the trio but not before readers get to share the spooking with REALLY SCARY SOUNDS in this sound effects and “Nightmarish 3D” book.

Duck & Goose Find A Pumpkin ($10.99, Schwartz & Wade Books, ages 2 and up) is yet another delightful board book for the preschool set and for story time by author/illustrator Tad Hills. The pages are large and durable, the art is adorable, bright and inviting and the story is just simple enough for your littlest reader. Duck and Goose go in search of a pumpkin after they see the one Thistle has found. It’s not long before the pair are looking in a log, a pile of leaves, up in an apple tree, in a pond, on top of a stump all for naught! But with Thistle’s help, perhaps the pair’s luck will change. Learn more about this award-winning author and his other Duck & Goose books by clicking here.

It wouldn’t be Halloween without mentioning the always popular Scream Street series, Book #7, Invasion of The Normals ($5.99, Candlewick, ages 8-10) by Tommy Donbavand available in paperback. As the first page professes, “The fiendish fun continues at www.screamstreet.com” so what are you waiting for kids?  This is an ideal choice for reluctant readers with short chapters, imaginative illustrations and even free collectors’ cards inside the back cover! Take a walk down this street, but you’ve been warned! Something strange is going on and it could be NORMAL!

On Monday, October 8 and then again on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 we’re reviewing and/or briefly mentioning books that we’ve read recently then giving them away the following week! So **read both posts before entering. And guess what? If  you LIKE us on Facebook and also send us your name and contact info in an email to Ronna.L.Mandel@gmail.com by midnight on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 you’ll be entered to win a prize package of all 11 books covered (worth a value of $153.77) just in time for Halloween!! Remember to write Halloween Book Giveaway in the subject line.  **YOU MUST LIST ALL BOOKS COVERED IN THE 2 BLOGS as part of your entry eligibility so be sure to read the blog every day!! Click here now for more detailed rules. Good luck!