I Thought I Saw A Dinosaur!
Written and illustrated by Lydia Nichols
(Templar Books; $7.99, Ages 0-3)
I Thought I Saw A Dinosaur! by Lydia Nichols is part of the “I Thought I Saw A” series—the other title right now being I Thought I Saw A Lion! This compact square-shaped, 10-page board book includes a slide-and-seek feature that encourages manually dexterity. Just move the easy-to-spot loop (it looks like a ring-shaped life preserver) in every spread to the opposite end of the cut-away area and presto, behold the dino! It could be anywhere in the house. Maybe behind the sofa or maybe in the shower (the shower curtain is my favorite slider). One thing is for sure, this chartreuse green dino is adorable and friendly so youngsters will be thrilled to find it. Nichols’s artwork has a cool retro feel, but most of all it’s warm and welcoming and makes for an entertaining game of slide-and-seek at home or on the road.
Take a Look: More Fun Together!
Written and illustrated by Liesbet Slegers
(Clavis Books; $12.95, Ages 18 months and up)
What’s more fun than playing alone? Playing with a friend! In fact, everything’s more fun together and toddlers will agree. First they’ll see bear resting, but after they slide apart the sturdy board book pages, they’ll see bear’s pal revealed. Is bunny crawling into her empty burrow? Nope her little ones await her! Use this 12-page book to discuss friendship, types of animals then come up with your own take on the colorful cast of characters including a cat, an elephant, a fish and some kids. Each slide-and-see page of Take a Look. More Fun Together!, a delightful interactive board book, holds a sweet surprise. An adorable year round read.
by Claire Zucchelli-Romer
(Handprint Books/Chronicle Kids; $17.99, Ages 2-4)
Let one, five or ten fingers linger on every page to explore the tactile fun that is TouchThinkLearn: Wiggles. The “fluorescent die-cut dots and playful, grooved paths” will entertain and engage children as they learn about shapes, color and movement in a totally unique way. According to Handprint Books, “The premise is simple: Hear an instruction, repeat its words, and playfully trace out its action.” Children won’t be able to resist. I couldn’t either, from my very first touch of the book’s spine and cover. The spirals inside pulled me in, but maybe it will be the the squiggles, dots or zigzags for your toddlers and preschoolers. Whatever captures their interest, they’re sure to find new ways to interact with this 26-page, vibrantly colored board book. Its innovative design and exuberant language promises to spark sensory curiosity in little learners. Find half a dozen other books in the terrific TouchThinkLearn series including Little Critters, Fly and ABC.
Written and illustrated by David Pelham
(Candlewick Press; $12.99, Ages 3-7)
Samantha’s sad that her burger’s been stolen, “And that’s the second one this week!” she cries to her brother who has a plan—concoct something that resembles a burger only fill it with fake food designed to hide creepy crawlies. What a wonderfully distasteful way to get back at the thief! That’ll certainly give the culprit something to chew on. This convincing, cleverly designed three-dimensional, lift-the-flap book is not for those who easily get queasy. Sam’s Hamburger is a satisfying sequel to the best-selling Sam’s Sandwich, first published in 1990. It will introduce a new generation of young readers to this bright, bold, over-the-top, but cooked to perfection recipe for sweet (or sour) revenge.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Changing Picture Book
Written by Michael Rosen
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
(Candlewick Press; $18.99, Ages 3-7)
The award-winning classic from 1989 has had many iterations, but this latest, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Changing Picture Book, is one I think will please even Bear Hunt purists because it’s just so much fun. There are seven transforming pages including the cover in this 20-page board book. Each one brings movement and excitement to the spread where the changing pictures have been designed. The pull-down tabs switch from illustration only to illustration and the beloved sounds we all love repeating and in many cases have memorized: Swishy swashy! Splash splosh! Squelch squerch! Stumble trip! Hoo woo! and the ultimate, IT’S A BEAR! So when thinking of a baby shower gift, add this version to your list and help new parents have a beautiful day or plan on having one yourself!
– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
Check out another board book roundup here.
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)
It’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 so 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
I’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!
Apollo 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.
Squacky 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
Sweet 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.
Cowbella 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)
It’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.
Sweet 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.
Squacky 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.
Four 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:
“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.
These 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
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
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.
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.
Making 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?
Rainbow 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.
Mama’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.
The 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!