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Great Summer Reading! Five Novelty Book Faves For Toddlers & Preschoolers

A ROUNDUP OF UNIQUE BOOKS
FOR TODDLERS & PRESCHOOLERS

 

 

I Thought I Saw a Dinosaur! cover illustrationI 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.

 

Cover art from Take a Look: More Fun Together! by Liesbet Slegers 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.

 

book cover die_cut art from TouchThinkLearn: Wiggles

TouchThinkLearn: WIggles
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.

 

Sam's Hamburger cover artworkSam’s Hamburger
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.

 

cover illustration from We're Going on a Bear Hunt: Changing Picture Book

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.

 

 

 

 

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Dinoblock by Christopher Franceschelli

DINOBLOCK
by Christopher Franceschelli with artwork by Peskimo
(Abrams Appleseed; $16.95, Ages 1 and up)

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If you have a budding young paleontologist (and even if you don’t), this book’s inventive and colorful graphic design will delight and engage both children and adults.

Two children stop by the museum to “meet the dinosaurs” as the banner outside proclaims. Wait-don’t be so quick to turn the page: the first two pages fold out to form a four-page spread of the diorama-style exhibit.

But the children want to know:

WHO ARE THE DINOSAURS?

and

WHERE ARE THE DINOSAURS?

 

Intartdinoblock.jpg

Interior artwork from Dinoblock by Christopher Franceschelli with illustrations by Peskimo, Abrams Appleseed ©2015.

And the dinosaurs, peeking out from the jungle brush, call out:

HERE WE ARE

Pairs of two-page spreads combine to create clues and answers, comparing the characteristics of contemporary objects with dinosaur features. The design of the “clue” spread interacts with the “answer” spread and links the present to past.

A tall building is compared to the Sauroposeidon, a dinosaur that reached heights of 18 meters (almost 60 feet).

I AM TALL LIKE A SIX-STORY BUILDING …

The straight-edged tab on the shared page of the clue and the answer emphasizes both the building’s height and the long neck of the Sauroposeidon and gives children a peek into the stylized prehistoric environment.

 

Intartdinoblock.jpg

Interior artwork from Dinoblock by Christopher Franceschelli with illustrations by Peskimo, Abrams Appleseed ©2015.

In one two-page spread, the two friends float in a small boat over a large whale. The text of the clue reads:

I AM LONG LIKE A WHALE …

The next spread reveals the answer:

I AM A DIPLODOCUS.

In these two spreads, the shared tab follows the curving back and tail of both the whale and the diplodocus.

Not sure how to pronounce those complicated sounding dino names? Not to worry-the author provides a phonetic *translation” beneath the scientific name. Boy, I could have used this years ago when my sons and I struggled to pronounce names like MICROPACHYCEPHALOSAURUS (MY-cro-PACK-ee=SEFF-ah-low-SORE-us).

The final two pages fold out to reveal a four-page spread of the skeletons of each of the dinosaurs depicted in the book.

Simple words typed in capitol letters and some repetition in the sentences make the text accessible to toddlers and preschoolers. The diversity of the children and the dinosaurs they discover hint at the diversity of life and demonstrates that many children share the same wonder and amazement over dinosaurs.

Bold and colorful illustrations over two-page spreads, cheerful faces (Peskimo’s T-Rex is nothing like the raging monster in Jurassic Park), and the larger board book format guarantee interactivity. A block (buster) of a book (forgive the pun). Be prepared to read and play with this book more than once!

Christopher Franceschelli is the publisher and president of Handprint Books and the creator of other concept books like Alphablock and Countablock. See GRWR’s reviewer Rita Zobayan’s earlier review of Countablock, and check out School Library Journal’s interview with the author. Peskimo, a British husband and wife team, did the artwork on both books. Visit their website to see more of their nostalgic, retro artwork.

– Reviewed by Dornel Cerro

ALLY-SAURUS & the First Day of School by Richard Torrey

Ally-saurus & the First Day of School
Written and illustrated by Richard Torrey
(Sterling Children’s Books; $14.95, Ages 3-6 )

Starred Review – Publishers Weekly

Ally-Saurus&theFirstDayofSchool.jpg

Even dinosaurs get starting school jitters, in fact, maybe even those who are actually little girls pretending to be dinosaurs.

“Do you think there will be other dinosaurs in my class?” asked Ally-saurus.
“I think you’re going to make a lot of new friends,” said Mother.

Introducing Ally-saurus, an enthusiastic, pig-tailed little girl with an active imagination. At first it seems that making friends will not be easy. None of Ally-saurus’ classmates chomp their snack with fierce teeth or “ROAR!” like she does. Instead they eat quietly much to Ally-saurus’ surprise. She was expecting everyone to be wild about dinos just like her.

Torrey cleverly uses black and white plus a lot of shading in his illustrations so the snippets of color that he adds stand out and really a make a statement. For example, a pink tail and ridges crayoned onto Ally-saurus throughout the book indicate that Ally is imagining herself as a Stegosaurus. Later, Robert is the first classmate to get his hint of blue color as he imagines himself to be an astronaut when he and Ally-saurus cut out nameplate designs for their cubbies. During a lesson on the weather followed by one about letters, three princesses begin voicing their opinions as gold crowns and dresses are outlined on them.

Then, at lunchtime Ally-saurus is told by these princesses that:

“These seats are saved for princesses, not dinosaurs,” said Tina.
“You’re not a real princess!” roared Ally-saurus.
“You’re not a real dinosaur,” said Tina.
“Then why am I eating dinosaur food?” asked Ally-saurus.
“That’s baloney!” said Tina, and the other princesses giggled.

Ally-saurus is left to sit alone elsewhere until she is joined by several other students, all eager to share what they enjoy pretending to be. “Soon the whole table was roaring and chomping.” It isn’t long before Ally-saurus and the kids from her lunch table are running around during recess playing make-believe and having a blast. Ally-saurus realizes too that dinos and princesses can find common ground over pretend cups of tea.

Class Picture.jpg

Reprinted with permission from Ally-saurus & the First Day of School © 2015 by Richard Torrey, Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Illustrations by Richard Torrey.

Best of all, in the school library, (my favorite place), Ally-saurus along with her classmates discover there are books about all kinds of things … including bunnies. And guess who’s got a pink bunny tail and bunny ears drawn on when she hops out of bed the next morning? Note: There’s an unassuming little bunny lamp on a night table in the last illustration. Plus, Torrey has cleverly covered the endpapers in front with dinos and at the back with bunnies, something I only noticed on the second read! That’s sure to make children want to go back again and again to look for more details.

Add Ally-saurus & the First Day of School to your back-to-school list for an ideal picture book to share with youngsters. It’ll help them realize they’re not the only ones who get nervous starting school. It’s also a great way to start the conversation about the give and take necessary to form and keep friendships.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Brave and Mighty Little Chick

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tlc tour hostChick-o-Saurus-RexGood Reads With Ronna is excited to be part of the Chick-O-Saurus Rex  (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, ages 4-8) blog tour. This new picture book is a collaboration by husband and wife team Lenore and Daniel Jennewein.

If you saw a tree house you’d want to go in, wouldn’t you? Well so did Little Chick. The only problem was the bullies, Little Donkey, Little Pig and Little Sheep, keeping him out. They announced, “This is a club for the brave and mighty. First you have to prove you belong.” Not exactly a warm and welcoming requirement to place on poultry.

Chick-O-Saurus RexBut Little Chick was up for the challenge despite the mean behavior of the taunting trio. While other chickens might have been discouraged, Little Chick persevered. He wondered if somewhere in his family tree there might be proof of a brave and mighty chicken and posed this question to Father Rooster. Together they perused a family album for hints of bravery and might in their lineage.

When a photo shows Grandpa Rooster unearthing an ancestor’s fossil (yes, fossil), Little Chick is eager to pursue this clue. Could our Little Chick be a descendant of dinos? Several weeks pass before a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton is dug up proving Little Chick’s mighty heritage. He takes off for the tree house to share his discovery, but finds the bullies being preyed upon by a hungry wolf. With a scary battle-cry of “Cock-A-Doodle-Dooo!,” and a frightening fossil clutched in his fist, Little Chick chases the wolf away, is proclaimed a hero and permanently changes the bullies’ opinion of one so small.

Lenore and Daniel Jennewein

Lenore and Daniel Jennewein

This winning book is infused with subtle humor (perhaps adults will have to explain the chicken-dance craze reference to youngsters, but the picture of Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandpa crossing the road should be easier to catch) and adorable illustrations that make it mighty good human entertainment.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Of Dads and Dinosaurs

ADD2We’re celebrating fathers this month as Father’s Day is right around the corner.  Are Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? ($16.95, Peachtree Publishing, Ages 3-7) by Julie Middleton is the perfect picture book for young children to read with their dads. It’s cute, it’s clever and it’ll teach you a thing or two about prehistoric creatures.

Are Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? is a story about a boy named Dave, who goes to a museum with his Dad to see a dinosaur exhibit. “Are the dinosaurs dead, Dad?” is the first of many questions Dave asks his father.

“Dead?” Dad said. “Yes, the dinosaurs are dead.

But as father and son tour the museum, young Dave is sure the dinosaurs are trying to communicate with him despite Dad’s assurances over and over again that it’s not possible.

Or is it?

What I enjoyed about this simple picture book is that it’s a heck of a lot of fun to read and is educational. I absolutely love the big, vibrant illustrations by Russell Ayto and the whimsical font which makes the book look like it was handwritten. You’ll be hard pressed to find a kindergartener  or first grader who isn’t fascinated by dinosaurs; these extinct animals were really extraordinary. Besides, what better way is there to celebrate dad, and all of his expertise, than reading an especially fun book like this with him?

For another cute book about dads, check out this review of My Dad Thinks He’s Funny.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

Point and Twirl

BRONTORINA, written by James Howe and illustrated by Rand Cecil is reviewed by Lindy Michaels, a woman with a dream.

0763644374medBrontorina had a dream. She wanted to dance! And so she enrolled in Madame Lucille’s Dance Academy For Girls and Boys. There was just one teeny, tiny problem. Brontorina was… wait for it… a huge dinosaur! When Madame Lucille pointed this fact out to her, she replied, dreamily, “True, but in my heart I am a ballerina.”

The children in the dance academy didn’t seem to care about Brontorina’s dream, at all, chiding her with taunts of, “She is too big!” And “She does not have the right shoes!” Although Madame Lucille had to agree with them, never one to crush another’s dreams, she accepted the dinosaur into her ballet class, but with the warning, “Please try not to squash the other dancers.”

Well! Amazingly, Brontorina proved to be quite the “little” twinkle toes, graceful and agile, although she did crash her head through the dance studio’s ceiling while doing relevés and jetés:  And no boy could possibly lift the humongous beast over his head, as is often the necessity in the craft of ballet dancing.

With a tear in her eye, just when Brontorina’s dream was about to fade away, a solution was found that not only allowed the dinosaur to continue her pliés and arabesques, but also encouraged others of largeness, like cows and hippos and other dinosaur friends to have the opportunity to ‘point’ and ‘twirl,’ also.

And just think, it all began with a dream. So children of all ages, listen closely and never, ever give up on your dreams, even if you bang your head on the ceiling trying to fulfill those dreams.

lindymichaelspicThe very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked in  Studio City for Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Breakfast & Books

Journeys to outer space, talking animals, enchanted castles – the world of reading has no limits. Books can offer a child imaginary and thought-provoking experiences unlike any other.

books-box-cheerios

Collect all five titles.

This fall, Cheerios is inviting families to start the day with a nutritious breakfast and a new book. As part of its ongoing commitment to help families connect by fostering a shared love of reading, Cheerios is providing more than six million children’s books, free inside Cheerios boxes, through its Spoonfuls of Stories® program. This year’s in-pack offerings are appropriate for children ages three to eight and written in both English and Spanish.

cheerios_sign

Recently, Cheerios fielded a survey to examine the role reading plays in family life. Some key findings include:

· Although two-thirds (67%) of moms said they read to their children at least once a day and eight in ten moms (81%) started reading to their child before their first birthday, a quarter (26%) said they only read together a few times a week.

· Nearly two-thirds (61%) of moms said “busy schedules” prevent them from spending more time reading with their kids. Cheerios hopes that the simple act of putting books in boxes encourages families to read more – even if it means squeezing in a story at the breakfast table.

Dino Dear

9780375856082DEAR TYRANNOSAURUS REX, (Random House, $16.99, ages 4-8) written by Lisa McClatchy and illustrated by John Manders, is reviewed today by Lindy Michaels of BookStar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.

How does a little girl turning six years old persuade, of all things, a dinosaur, to come to her birthday party? Well, she writes him a letter, of course! She encloses a map to her house and vividly describes all the fun and games that will ensue, if only he would join her celebration.

“If you come to my party, we’ll play pirates on my play set.
Your tail will make a great slide!”

The colorful and hysterical illustrations illuminate all the fun to be had, if only Tyrannosaurus Rex would show up. And oh, what a puss this guy has!

But would he be big hearted and make an appearance? After reading this delightful book to little ones, don’t be surprised at whom your children might want to invite to their next birthday party!!

lindymichaelspic3The very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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