SEEK AND COUNT Written and illustrated by Yusuke Yonezu (MineditionUSA/Michael Neugebauer Publishing; $9.99, Ages 0-3)
If you’re looking for an original counting book, I recommend Seek and Count by Yusuke Yonezu. This 20-page board book’s bright graphic art will engage young hands. Each page’s number is accompanied by an image under the flap, a pleasant surprise the reader will enjoy repeating.
Seek and Count delights while teaching young children their numbers from one to ten. I appreciate clever details such as how the egg on the cover is pictured inside with a crack; when you peek under the flap, a chick emerges. Other images are a bit of a game: number seven could be a wild hairdo but turns out to be an anemone with seven clown fish swimming nearby.
Author-illustrator Yusuke Yonezu was born in Tokyo. As a child he loved to draw and make toys out of paper and boxes. Later, he studied design. He is the creator of The Rainbow Chameleon, Five Little Apples, Moving Blocks, the Guess What? series of board books, and Yum Yum!
Today is Earth Day. In fact, today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Back in 1970, the world woke up to the fact that mankind was destroying the planet. Horrible smog covered many major cities. Rain forests were disappearing. The hole in the ozone layer was getting bigger. And many animals were on the brink of extinction.
“Thefirst Earth Dayin 1970 enlisted 20 million Americans and is credited with launching the modern environmental movement. It is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event and it led to passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States, including the Clean Air, Clear Water and Endangered Species Acts. Many countries soon adopted similar laws, and the United Nations chose Earth Day 2016 to sign the Paris climate agreement.”
Back in 1970, I was a young woman teaching kindergarten in the New York City public schools. I knew that picture books were a wonderful way to educate, entertain, and inspire young children. But what I didn’t know then was that I would write a book to aid in our quest to protect the environment and save the species.
In those days, I often accompanied my husband on his fly-fishing expeditions to pristine mountain streams in the back country of whatever state we lived in at the time. These were areas not yet touched by residential and industrial development. And when I’d grow weary of casting the rod, I’d sit on a rock and be still … so still that after a while, woodland creatures would venture out. In Colorado, otters splashed, falcons circled, and butterflies would flit, flutter, and hover, sipping nectar from wild columbines. I knew then that one day I’d write a story about them, a story that would encourage children and their parents to cherish wildlife and protect their habitats because a world that is safe for wild animals is safe for human beings.
FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK(Pomegranate, Ages 5-8)introduces children to ten endangered animals: river otters, Peregrine falcons, fritillary butterflies, yellow mud turtles, and more. The text is lyrical yet simple enough for the very young. And the illustrations are fabulous original woodcuts by the talented artist Mirka Hokannen. The rich STEM back matter contains facts about each animal and also information about protection of these species and what factors threaten them. There is also a wonderful activity book created by the illustrator, available here forfree download.
Although much work has been done over the last fifty years, there is still so much more to do if we are to leave a legacy of clean water, fresh air, and a healthy planet for our children and for all of the species that live here. Because there is a chain of life that connects us all and, if even one species is threatened, we humans are threatened as well.
There are simple things that parents, teachers, and kids can do together and in the activity book, there are Six Steps to Care for Endangered Animals:
Turn the lights off (less electricity use means less pollution)
Place pictures on your windows (so birds won’t fly into them and hurt themselves)
Reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic bags (animals often mistake plastic for food)
Make your home wildlife friendly (keep garbage out of reach from wild animals)
Plant a native garden (provide food and shelter for wildlife)
Learn about endangered species in your area (so that you can better protect them)
Thank you so much, Ronna, for giving me the opportunity to shout out about EARTH DAY and aboutFOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN. We only have one planet – and we need to take good care of it and all of its inhabitants.
A huge thanks to Vivian for writing her charming picture book and for this enlightening guest post. As global citizens, we are custodians of our world and must pay attention to the signs all around us that climate change, waste, pollution, and the poisoning of our waters with plastics and chemicals will not go away just by wishing it so.
Written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Leslie Wu Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004, Prices vary per format
Father’s Day is just around the corner and to honor the occasion, I’m reviewing two picture books that have been daddy favorites in our household for years.
The first is Daddy Hugs 1*2*3 by perennial kidlit favorite, Karen Katz. This counting book is perfect for the younger crowd (ages 1-3). Its bright and action-packed illustrations feature Daddy playing with Baby with hugs at every number.
“Here I come! It’s Daddy!”
Four “Yay, you did it!” first-step hugs
Six “I gotcha now!” hide-and-seek hugs
Eight dancing on Daddy’s feet cha-cha hugs
Kitty is along for the fun and can be spotted on many of the pages. Numbers accompany the words, so the young readers can identify numerals. This is a sweet book that highlights the milestones in infant/toddler life. The story ends with good night kisses and is perfect as a bedtime book, as well.
The Very Best Daddy of All written by Marion Dane Bauer is a quiet book that presents the many ways through which fathers express and demonstrate love for their children.
Some daddies sing you awake.
Some hold you snug and tight.
Some take care of your mama, so she can take care of you.
Each page cleverly presents animal fathers. For example, Some tuck you in, safe and warm, when the sun’s about to go features a duckling cozying up in its father’s wing. Some daddies comb your hair, gently, gently, so you’ll be fresh and neat is paired with a gorilla combing his fingers through his child’s fur.
Leslie Wu’s pastel illustrations capture the warmth and strength of the animals in their landscapes. See the zebras on the savanna as the sun sets and the songbird feeding its baby in their nest.
The title suggests there is a very best daddy of all. Who is it? Your child will enjoy reading the book to find out.
There’s something extra special about a boxed set of books, especially when they’re beautiful and sturdy and made to last. You just know they’re for keeps. Bronwyn Bancroft’s1, 2, 3 and abc ($17.99, Trafalgar Square Publishing, Ages 1-4) includes two titles in a compact set: An Australian 1, 2, 3 of Animals and An Australian abc of Animals. If the only Australian artist you know is Ken Done, take a look at the talent that is Bancroft.
In the vast sea of counting and alphabet books, it never ceases to amaze me when I discover new ones that are creative and original. Author Bronwyn Bancroft is an Aboriginal artist who uses her talents to entertain the littlest readers with vivid multi-media illustrations filled with dotted, striped and geometric designs.
An Australian 1, 2, 3 of Animalscounts from one to twelve and features animals of Australia like koalas, kookaburras, and geckos, while An Australian abc of Animals takes readers through the alphabet with additional animals of Australia such as a dingo, honeyeater and a wombat. The illustrations are so pleasing to the eye that they will keep a toddler’s attention as you recite the numbers or letters.
Bronwyn Bancroft’s1, 2, 3 and abc would make a wonderful addition to your toddler’s library, and with the thick board book pages, you can enjoy reading these books over and over again. Then, if you can bear to part with them, you can pass them on to another child who will enjoy them as much as you and your child did.
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.
When it comes to numbers, there are plenty of counting books out there to choose from, and while many counting books for infants go only to 10, Basher: 1, 2, 3 ($16.99, Kingfisher, ages 3 and up), written and illustrated by Simon Basher, takes children into the realm of the double-digits — all the way up to 20. Each two-page spread of the book with its bold red cover features a solid color background with a bold black number and playful illustrations which often depict an alliterative description of the number. The large bold black 19 on a solid yellow page is matched with a picture of the “Nineteen naughty sheep [who] splash and jump in puddles” on the opposite page. Along the bottom of each page is a list of the numbers, with the current number underlined (so you don’t lose track of your counting).
Besides just helping a child to learn numbers, Basher: 1, 2, 3 offers numerous opportunities for learning new colors, animals, insects, objects, and vocabulary, as well as the ability to teach your child how to spell the numbers, which are written out in each description. I like books like this that give me an abundance of tools on each page with which I can teach my child. It is not just having my child help me count the “Seven tiny rabbits jump around in cowboy hats.” It’s being able to ask him “What color hat is that rabbit wearing?” and saying “Show me how you jump like a rabbit!” Going all the way up to 20 simply extends the fun to be had with this unique counting book. Each page offers new ways to interact with your child while learning numbers at the same time. Basher: 1, 2, 3 is a charming, creative, and innovative counting book perfect for helping your child learn the first 20 numbers!
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.
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!
Perfect for preschoolers, Soup For One ($14.95, Running Press Kids, ages 3 and up) is a treat to read. The start of school means opportunities to learn, but also to have fun and this book offers just the right amount of both. Long has created an engaging story that is part counting book and part whimsical mystery. Children can count how many hungry flies decide to descend upon a hot bowl of soup, pre-empting an eager spider from diving in. “Tee hee hee! Some soup for me!” announces the first fly in brightly-colored and totally appealing artwork that appears to be a combination of several mediums.
Can your youngster spot the hiding spider? What kind of face is the second fly making? There are so many ways to delight your child as you make a game and count to ten. What colors are the flies? Can you remember which fly flew in third? Is someone sipping some soup and if so, how? Parents can pose other questions such as “How do you think the first fly is feeling after so many other flies have invaded the soup?” to discuss different feelings displayed on every page.
As parents read page after page, curious kids may begin to wonder what happened to the chef or whether the patient spider will ever get a chance to enjoy the soup, and that’s precisely why this picture book works on so many levels.
“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!
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.