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Sassy Board Book Series

9780448477879HKnown for their developmental toys, Sassy has branched out into baby books and it’s a good move. The newest Sassy brand board books for babies are very cute because they’re simple, colorful, and bold. Like their toys which encourage exploration, these sturdy 12 page Sassy books, including Sassy Baby Sees: A First Book of Faces (Grosset & Dunlap, $6.99, ages 0-3) by Dave Aikins, invite even the littlest ones to look more closely.

The images of Mommy! Daddy! Dog! Cat! are in black and white providing the high contrast newborns can see most easily. There’s even an embedded mirror at the end page for a lovely surprise. Colored dots and striped patterns on the pages opposite each picture work as nicely in this book as they do on the toys.

These books, along with some complementary developmental toys, are perfect for a baby shower gift. Other titles in this line of board books are: Sassy Who Says?Sassy Baby’s World: A First Book of Senses, and Sassy Baby Loves Colors.

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The Moon and so Much More

Soar To Great Heights

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Are you familiar with this oldie but goodie? I Took the Moon for a Walk ($14.99, large format board book; $7.99, paperback, Barefoot Books, ages 1-7) by Carolyn Curtis and illustrated by Alison Jay is simply stunning. This oversized board book is a personal fave because the rhyming verse is not only well paced, but so original.  “I carried my own light just in case, the Moon got scared and hid its face.”

Toddlers will settle down for sleep while listening to the book’s gentle, soothing rhymes. Parents, invite your little ones to join the little boy, his imagination and the most beautifully detailed crackly and glazed-faced moon as they wander, hand holding hand, around an enchanting village one magical night. “We danced ‘cross the bridge where the smooth waters flow. The Moon was above and the Moon was below …” Creatively illustrated with cats, bats, foxes, owls, snails, swans, hares and howling dogs, I Took the Moon for a Walk is a comforting bedtime story, certain to allay any fears of the dark.

A bonus to the book is a page at the end devoted to facts about The Mysterious Moon and another all about the featured creatures in The World at Night. If you have a chance to check out Barefoot Books’ website and learn more about their core values and brilliant selection of imagination-sparking storybooks, I highly recommend doing so.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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Simply Wild

A while ago I reviewed Go Wild with Colours by Neal Layton. (He has also written Go Wild with Noises and Go Wild with Opposites). Now Neal has written Go Wild with Designs. ($5.99, Pavilion Books, All ages), a perfect companion to add to the series.

This straightforward book is awfully cute. I love that it introduces young children to something not often found in board books. Twelve colorful pages feature designs such as diamonds, spots, stripes and zigzags on the skins of animals depicted in wonderfully simple illustrations.

You’ll love snuggling with your child in bed reading this Go Wild book, studying the illustrations and talking about what you’ve learned. Why not read all four in the series together?

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Yours, Mine and Mine!

Ronna Mandel reviews Mine! ($6.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, ages 1 and up) by Shutta Crum with pictures by Patrice Barton.

I’m particularly partial to board books with few to no words so that parents can spend more time discussing what’s going on in a story than actually reading. This is exactly the case with Mine! 

Two toddlers on a play date find fun and friendship as one proclaims all the toys are “Mine!” and the other sits patiently watching calamity after hilarious calamity ensues as the other gathers up all that’s hers (or his because the toddlers’ genders are not pronounced).  When the child, not keen on sharing, notices the visiting child pick up one dropped toy, the chaos begins. Enter playful pup and you can guess the rest. The story unfolds seamlessly with tumbles and tosses that need no description because the artwork is so vivid.

The joyfulness of this story is evident from giggles and grins galore on the characters’ faces including the dog (okay the dog doesn’t giggle, but he does woof).  You will love the beautiful illustrations by Patrice Barton, and your children will be captivated by Mine! as will you.

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Curl Up With A Cat

Reviewer Ronna Mandel’s face lit up after reading Up Cat by Hazel Hutchins with art by Fanny.

I love animals. All things cat, dog, bear and bunny interest me so naturally I gravitated towards Up Cat ($6.95, Annick Press/Firefly Books, ages 2-5) when it arrived at my doorstep earlier this year.

This charming board book, and its companion, Up Dog, are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers ready to learn new words and grasp new expressions. From the onset, little ones will be in for a treat when they meet the darling little gray feline and follow just what he gets UP to during the day. Whether it’s watching him wake up, hearing him speak up, seeing him tear and rip up, and make a pretty big mess, the activity never ends. Nor will the giggles.

The artwork is bright and cheerful. Fanny’s style is simple yet says so much that children will absolutely adore the cat and all his antics, naughty or not.  I’m betting there’ll be some serious snuggle time after a read through and like kitty, you might just want to “cover up, curl up and soak up the sun.”

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A Touch & Pull Book For Toddlers

The Nose Knows!

My kids loved interactive books when they were toddlers and it will be easy for you to understand why when you share Sniff! ($9.99, Simon & Schuster/A Paula Wiseman Book, ages 2-6) with your little ones. New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Matthew Van Fleet “nose” what kids like in touch and pull books and in Sniff!, he’ll draw them in instantly with the cute moving elephant on the cover and then continue to keep them engaged with all the tactile pleasures youngsters could imagine.

Van Fleet introduces a skunk (pee-yew!), a pig (wipe that drippy nose!), a mouse (with twitchy whiskers), a bear (with his squishy nose), a tiger (touch that fuzzy nose), and a whole lot more creatures who, in just a few sort board book pages and gentle rhyme will captivate your child.  Meet the author and get activities at KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com.

Today’s review is by Ronna Mandel.

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A Board Book That Teaches Opposites in a Big Way

Hippopposites ($14.95, Abrams/Appleseed, ages 2 and up) written and illustrated by Janik Coat is reviewed by Ingrid Vanessa Olivas.

Hippopposites is a bright and sturdy board book that my 3-year-old daughter, Penelope, immediately gravitated to. If you are looking for a way to introduce or explain what opposites are to your toddler, then Janik Coat does a great job of explaining this concept. The cover alone has an eye catching red hippo that she uses throughout the book.  Her illustrations are simple but effective. Each opposite word has its own page so there is no room for confusion. The word small would be on one side and large on the other and, as an added bonus, I even changed my voice to add more drama. A squeaky voice for small and a deep booming voice for large. My daughter just LOVED this!

Author Coat even adds texture to depict soft and rough so that you may feel this pair of opposites. Great touch, no pun intended. And everyone knows when you add something you can feel kids love it, just like mine did! I especially enjoyed her choice of opposites: invisible, visible, positive, negative, free, caged, alone and together. My daughter wanted me to read this book over and over again. Of course I did not mind, but what brought chills to me was when she started actually using the words. As parents and educators, there’s nothing that gives us more satisfaction, than when our children start using words in the correct context. Overall Janik Coat did a terrific job of getting the ball rolling with opposites so much so that you automatically want to think of more. Less. Good-bye. Hello.  Keep the clever conversation going with this great new book for youngsters.

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R.O.Y.G.B.I.V.

The most fundamental lesson a child can learn is identifying all the colors of the rainbow. Today Debbie Glade reviews two small books for the youngest readers with big messages about colors.

Just look at the cover of Go Wild with Colours ($6.99, Trafalgar Square, all ages), written and illustrated by Neal Layton, and you will be in hurry to see what’s inside. This compact board book is beautiful in the simplest of ways. Each page features a different animal and a new color. It’s a great way for toddlers to start learning to identify colors. I like the fact that the book is ultra sturdy and the illustrations are ultra adorable – and of course, colorful too! NOTE: Colours is spelled the British way!

There are three other titles in the Go Wild series – Designs, Opposites and Noises.

The Smiley Book of Colors ($8.99, Golden Books/Random House, all ages) by Ruth Kaiser is awfully clever and cute. Everyday objects, such as a drawer, macaroni noodles, a hat, a toolbox, a fence and more are all made to look like smiley faces, while teaching children about colors. The simple rhyming prose is cheerful and will encourage little ones to study the photographs and learn to identify the colors. The book was inspired by the popular website, SpontaneousSmiley.com.

Parents will enjoy reading this book as much as their children. It’s just plain fun!

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Three Days in 3D From Barron’s

Debbie Glade reviews three special board books for the youngest readers.

There’s something exciting about opening a sturdy, colorful die cut board book, and it’s even more exciting when there are three in a series. Every page of each book is a different shape, so when the books are closed, they have a wonderful 3D effect.

The three 8-page books, A Day at the Circus, A Day at the Farm and A Day at the Zoo ($6.99, Barron’s Educational Series, ages 1 and up) show wee ones what they would see if they visited these places. Children in the stories are shown lending a helping hand. With simple rhyming prose and rich and colorful illustrations, these books make for a perfect gift and a cozy bedtime read.

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Give Peas A Chance

Peas on Earth ($6.99, Robin Corey Books, ages 0-3) by L.A. local Todd H. Doodler is reviewed today by Krista Jefferies. For her bio, please visit our homepage.

Peas on Earth is an adorable board book by Todd H. Doodler, a pseudonym for author and artist Todd Harris Goldman.  This is an easy-to-handle book that will entertain young children while teaching them the value of peace on Earth.  The author plays with the word “peas” to show how everyone should get along like “two peas in a pod” or like “peanut butter and jelly,” which is an uplifting and positive message for children.  This story blends learning and fun with every color-filled page. Because of the playful artwork, children might not even realize that they are absorbing a valuable lesson, but their parents will certainly appreciate both the images and the intent. The book illustrates a world in which even ants would say, “Bless you!” to an anteater’s sneeze, and elephants and mice would “share their cheese.” The cheerful faces throughout the book happily lead up to the delightful pop-up at the end, which children will enjoy getting to over and over again.  This book is sure to appease any young reader!

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God’s Creations

All Creatures Great and Small, illustrated by Naoko Stoop ($6.95, Sterling Children’s Books, ages 2 and up), is reviewed by the newest book lover on this site, Rita Zobayan. See her bio on our homepage.

I have a certain affinity for the Anglican hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” As a child growing up in London, I often heard this hymn sung during church service, on BBC period pieces, and on English television staple, Songs of Praise. Therefore, when I saw Naoko Stoop’s board book, All Creatures Great and Small, I was excited to take it home and share it with my daughters.

This children’s picture book version of the 1800’s hymn features a young girl and her monkey. The reader follows the pair as they observe and interact with the wonders of God’s creations: animals, flowers, landscapes and seasons. Stoop’s simple but charming illustrations infused with rich and warm hues invite the reader into the pictures, which look as if they have been painted on to a subtle wood grain background. My three-year-old daughter greatly enjoyed pointing to the pictures and naming the actions and animals.

At 20 pages, the book has readability. If you are familiar with the hymn, you can sing the verses and the refrain, which starts and ends the book. Luckily for the musically challenged (such as myself), young children are often forgiving of an out-of-tune, pitchy rendition when it’s sung by their parents. My daughters didn’t seem to mind my off-key warbling. I’m sure the book’s charm provided the sufficient distraction.

All Creatures Great and Small is a great fit for parents who are looking for an easy to understand, faith-based book to present to their young children.

 

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Welcome Easter and Spring

“When signs of spring are in the air,
we  look for babies everywhere!”

Pick up a copy of the board book version of Easter Babies: A Springtime Counting Book ($6.95, Sterling Children’s Books, ages birth to 3), and share some sunshine and number fun with your little ones.  Written by Joy N. Hulme with pictures by Dan Andreasen, this Easter book is a perfect introduction to baby animals and counting. Come along to the farm and count in rhyme:

“In grassy meadows 7 lambs,
frolic on frisky feet.

8 piglets wiggle near their mom,
to find a place to eat.”

Everything about this book is sweet and adorable from the darling illustrations of sleeping kittens to cheeping chicks. Celebrate this wonderful season and holiday with all the babies including yours and read this book today. Give it as an Easter basket gift or just buy it to keep in your diaper bag for warm weather outings.  Happy Easter!

Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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A Bright New Approach To Learning Colors From Pantone

 

 

Today’s review was written by Ronna Mandel

My uncle was an art director for a big New York department store almost 50 years ago and, as a child, I loved checking out everything on his desk from markers and tracing paper to inks and special artist’s pens. The first time I saw Pantone colors had to be in the early ’60s in my uncle’s studio, probably not long after their launch in 1963. Now with the publication of a new board book called  PANTONE: Colors ($9.95,  AbramsAppleseed, ages 1 and up), I can once again enjoy this marvelous array of colors in the signature style so universally recognizable. In fact, I am sure that just looking at the bright, bold pictures in the most wonderful colors and shades will bring hours of pleasure to you and your children.

This first-color book will delight little ones as they turn from page to page and explore colors in such a unique way.  Experience shades of yellow with a lion, orange with a fish, red with a wagon, pink with a piggy bank plus 5 other colors you’ll not want to miss including my all-time fave, purple.  Every page contains 20 shades that will lead to lots of interesting discussions with children. For example, what a fun discussion can ensue over colors called Peanut Butter Brown, Meatball Brown, Pretzel Brown, Caramel Brown and Barbecue Sauce Brown.  Not only will your mouth water, but comments from kids are certain to be entertaining to say the least!  

Take this book out with you on the town and visit places where you can search for objects similar to colors in the book. Listen to your children explain which colors they like and help them rank them in order of popularity. Watch the colors jump off the page straight into your child’s vocabulary and memory as you introduce blues at the beach, greens at the park and white, gray and black in the supermarket. Bring the book into restaurants, on car trips and watch the time fly by as your child begins looking at the world in a new and colorful way. I can’t wait to see what the exciting Pantone and Abrams Appleseed partnership delivers next.

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Adventure On The Go!

I loved Bizzy Bear Off We Go! ($6.99, Nosy Crow, ages 1 and up) by Benji Davies from the moment I picked it up and noticed that the yellow taxi cab on the cover moves! I pulled on the tab to reveal a green bus and motorcycle passing Bizzy Bear by as he embarks on his adventure by plane, train, and automobile.

Through a series of thick cardboard pages, Bizzy Bear hails a taxi, gets stuck in traffic, hops a train across the river, and catches his plane just in time to make it to the beach, where he goes for a sail on the ocean. Each new mode of transportation introduced offers a movable tab that slides to make the car, traffic, train, plane, or boat move in a creative way. I not only loved this interactive element to what is a cute and colorfully illustrated story, but I also found the narrative easy to read due to its careful rhyme scheme and rhythm. This book makes a perfect read-aloud and tactile activity to do with an infant or toddler. It’s the ideal vehicle for getting your child started on learning about various modes of transportation in a fun way.

Reviewer Karen B. Estrada has 9 years of experience as an English educator teaching students ranging from 6th grade to adult learners. She got her start teaching as a participant of the JET Program, during which she spent 3 years living and teaching in a rural Japanese town of 5000 people.  Since then, Karen has continued to teach English and Writing Skills at various levels in diverse settings such as Harlem, New York City, suburban New Jersey, and semi-rural Maryland. She holds a BA in English from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and an MA in Teaching of English from Teachers College, Columbia University. Karen is currently taking a short break from teaching as she awaits the arrival of her first child due in late April.

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A Counting Book To Grow On

I have always loved the bold graphics of Ammo books and that includes this board book designed with your toddler in mind.  Counting in the Garden ($14.95, Ammo Books, ages 18 mos. and up) written by Emily Hruby who teamed up with her brother Patrick Hruby for the illustrations, succeeds on all counts.

Little ones will be captivated by the colorful images of all the wonderful things growing in a young boy’s garden: from 1 onion, with many, many peels to 5 fresh watermelons, shiny and green to 10 tender tomatoes, juicy and delicious! And surprise there are even snails, butterflies, sunflowers and tulips, too, adding a vitality to the world outside just waiting to be explored … and in the end, eaten.  Parents will love reading this book to youngsters or letting them study each page to discover nature’s treasures on their own.

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