Interactive Picture Books for Young Readers

I discovered Fly! by Xavier Deneux in the recent arrival section of our local public library branch. It is a stunning board book with movable pieces that complements the story perfectly. Bird arrives at the foot of a tree after a long journey. Time passes and a friend arrives and joins her in the tree. Together they build a nest and raise two baby chicks. Fly! is a sweet story perfect for the youngest of readers. The smallest of hands will enjoy manipulative and maneuvering the pieces from one page to the next in order to help the story develop.

 

Press Here by Herve Tullet is another delightful read. Follow the directions presented on each page to embark an adventure of fun and imagination. Begin by pressing a single yellow dot and on the next page discover two yellow dots. Press the dot again and now there are three! Press Here is a great read. Even as an adult I enjoyed reading it and seeing the cause and effect relationships that spanned the pages. Let’s Play! is the third book of the series and captures the same whimsy as the first two books with even more movement and unexpected outcomes.

Click here to purchase copies of Fly!, Press Here and Let’s Play! (affiliate links).

A Fantastic Non-Fiction Series for Readers

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to review Kid Artists… by David Stabler. I was so excited to find a captivating non-fiction chapter book for upper elementary and middle school aged readers. I was even more delighted to learn that there were more books in the series which includes Kid Presidents* and Kid Athletes*. 

Each book features true tales from a famous person’s childhood making it easy for readers to relate to them and deeply humanizing these important figures who would go on to become famous athletes of presidents. Readers do not need to know much about the person before reading the chapters. Instead of being grouped chronologically, they are grouped by a theme that connects them.

For example, read about Barack Obama’s experience being the new kid in town. He left his home in Hawaii as a young boy to live in Indonesia with his family. There he had a pet gibbon, a type of ape, that ate peanuts from his hand. As a kid, he had to adjust to many changes living in his new home in Indonesia and he faced a significant amount of bullying for looking different and not speaking the language. The chapter teaches about overcoming obstacles, standing up for yourself and encourages kids to become resilient.

  Though I am not a huge sports enthusiast, there are certain times that I am absolutely captivated by sports, including the Summer Olympics. I have a big fan of gymnastics and always amazed by the focus and dedication of the youngest athletes to their sport and art. Kid Athletes is perfect for readers who love sports and for those who have specific athletes they admire. I was obviously drawn to the chapter about Gabby Douglass, the first African American gymnast to win an individual all-around gold medal during the 2012 Olympics.

Her chapter is featured in the section of the book called Family Matters, which explores the important role family played in the childhoods of a group of athletes. As a young child, Gabby demonstrated an early aptitude for gymnastics which led to her joining a gymnastics gym with rigorous instruction and training. Here she encountered bullying due to discrimination and faced many racist remarks from her peers.

Gabby struggled to keep this to herself and it ended up impacting her performances. Meanwhile, her coaches accepted mediocrity at best from her and did not push her to excel in the way that she was fully capable. When she finally was able to connect with a coach who believed in her, she gained the courage to stand up for herself and her gymnastics career skyrocketed.

Each chapter of David Stabler’s books is carefully crafted in a way that is engaging and informative. Each has an important lesson that the readers can take away and apply to his or her own life. Doogie Horner’s illustrations add an element of comedy and help the reader envision what is happening in the text. The partnership between author and illustrator is perfect and I can’t wait to see what else this series has in store!

Click here to purchase a copy of Kid Presidents and Kid Athletes (affiliate links).

*I received complimentary copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

 

The Grandest Canyon

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin is a phenomenal non-fiction picture book packed with the history and science behind the formation of one of the seven wonders of the world. More than just a large whole in the ground, the Grand Canyon is home to many different types of plants and animals. In fact the conditions vary so much from level to level of the canyon that each layer sustains a different type of plant and animal life entirely! How cool is that?

Jason Chin tells “the story” of the Grand Canyon as a father and daughter pair embark on a camping trip. Diagrams are great text features in helping the reader better understand complicated scientific concepts including erosion.

This book includes flashbacks in time so the reader can better understand how the Grand Canyon was formed by the movement of different bodies of water over time. For example, this illustration accompanies the description of what the Grand Canyon would have looked like 1.2 billion years ago when the only things living on Earth’s surface were tiny microbes. This mud would eventually transform into a layer of rock that became part of the canyon.

Grand Canyon is packed with many different lenses through which the reader can learn about this amazing natural phenomenon.  Jason Chin leaves us with a breathtaking four-page spread of the Grand Canyon that adds to the awe and wonder he inspires throughout the book.

Click here to purchase a copy of Grand Canyon (affiliate link).

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1596439505/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1596439505&linkCode=as2&tag=g505-20&linkId=288c64b0ee4ab7b68c0510fbb97797de

*I received a complimentary copy of Grand Canyon in exchange for my honest review.

The Power of Change

Allan Drummond’s Pedal Power is a non-fiction picture book that tells the story of how Amsterdam became the cycling capital of the world. This is a wonderful example of cause and effect or problem and solution text structure which is clear for readers from the onset.

When I travelled to Amsterdam while studying abroad in Spain many many years ago, I was taken aback by how prominent cycling was in this gorgeous European city. Pedal Power captures the energy of bikes buzzing down the wide streets.

Back in the 1970s Amsterdam’s streets were dominated by vehicles. Many beautiful buildings were being torn down to make room for wider streets and tunnels to accommodate all the traffic. The streets became too dangerous for cyclists. Young moms decided to take a stand. Led by Maartje Rutten, the dialogue about making the streets safe for everyone was ignited. People began congregating and protesting in conventional and more creative ways.

Overtime, they saw the impact of their protesting and change started to happen. Pedal Power encourages readers to not settle for the status quo but to take a chance and speak up for what you believe in. In this case, Maartje Rutten and a group of young mothers and children came together to make a change that impact not only their community but set an example for many big cities across the world.

Click here to purchase a copy of Pedal Power (affiliate link). 

*I received a complimentary copy of Pedal Power in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Preparing to Celebrate Earth Day

I love books that teach kids about the Earth, nature and its creatures. Hopefully exposing them to fiction and non-fiction books that teach us about the Earth from a young age will create a generation driven to saving what we have so effortlessly destroyed over time.

Ella Bailey’s books One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Savannah and One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Antarctic are a perfect celebration of animals in their habitats.

In One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Savannah young readers spend a day with a playful young cub learning and exploring life in the desert. From spending time with its family to finding trouble around every corner, this picture book is a celebration of life in an African desert. The illustrations are highly detailed and captivating, inviting the youngest of readers to engage in a conversation about what they see. One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Savannah is the perfect book for budding animal and nature enthusiasts.

One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Antarctic learn all about an Adelie penguin chick as she prepares to leave home and sets out to sea. The reader tags along as the penguin swims, finds food to eat and avoids danger. This is another stunning celebration of a rich habitat. The illustrations are filled with blues and whites and movement that captures the energy of life in the Antarctic.

Stay tuned for some additional picture books to help us celebrate Earth Day, which falls on April 22, 2017.

Click here to purchase a copy of One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Savannah and One Day on Our Blue Planet… in the Antarctic.

 

 

Easter Board Books

Holiday themed picture books are so much fun. It’s our first round of holidays with our little one and I’m still trying to figure out how we will navigate holiday books as part of our own home library collection. Leave them out throughout the year or bring them out as each holiday nears? I’d love to hear how you handle this in your school or home collections!

Somehow spring snuck up on me this year. Maybe it’s the 10-month old and having just gone back to work full time, but Easter is right around the corner. My little one is loving these two board books right now!

In Happy Easter, Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, join the pout-pout fish dressed up as a bunny and his underwater creature friends as they hide and find easter eggs in unexpected places. This is a fun, captivating read for babies and toddlers alike.

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl is a hilarious book. Peep can’t wait for Egg to hatch so that they can begin their many fun adventures today. But Egg is not having it. He’s too scared to make an appearance. Nothing Peep says will convince him to hatch. Young readers will laugh along as Peep tries to coax Egg out of his shell. Will Egg finally take a chance and hatch? Joyce Wan’s illustrations are bold, colorful and add to the comedy of each page.   

Click here to purchase a copy of Happy Easter, Pout-Pout Fish and Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching (affiliate links).

 

 

Entertaining Easter Reads

   Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood is a hilarious Easter read. It accurately portrays the personality of many cats. Claudia Rueda’s illustrations add an extra layer of comedic value, making this book a must have for any cat-loving family.

Cat sees a poster announcing that the Easter Bunny is coming soon and it upsets him. The narrator tries to reason with Cat, explaining that the Easter Bunny’s job is a hard one and not just anyone can take his place, but Cat cannot help but feel jealous and angry. The narrator invites him to be the Easter Cat and bring nice things to children everywhere as well. See his response for yourself!

Yes, that’s a hairball!

As the story continues, Cat comes up with unconventional ways to one up the Easter Bunny every step of the way on his journey to becoming the Easter Cat. The ending to this adorable story is unexpected and thoughtful.

Here Comes the Easter Cat is a must-have if you are looking for a fun-filled Easter-themed picture book. Click here to purchase a copy of this book (affiliate link).

Another fantastic Easter picture book is Chester’s Colorful Easter Eggs by Theresa Smythe. Chester the bunny is eager to decorate Easter eggs and hide them for his friends. He carefully dyes and designs each egg a special color and finds the perfect hiding spot. This book is perfect for young readers learning colors to reinforce names. It’s also great for looking at the bright and bold illustrations and naming familiar objects and creatures.

Chester’s Colorful Easter Eggs is a simple yet fantastic book about friendship and making meaningful memories.

Click here to purchase a copy of Chester’s Colorful Easter Eggs (affiliate link).

 

Lucky Lazlo?

Steve Light’s delightful Lucky Lazlo is an energetically fun picture book about a romance gone terribly wrong. Lazlo is on his way to see his love perform in Alice in Wonderland. He purchases the last red rose from the flower seller and he’s on his way to the theater. A mischievous cat lurks in the corner eyeing both Lazlo and the flower.

The cat stalks Lazlo and when the opportunity presents itself it snatches the rose away from him. A chase ensues as Lazlo follow the cat into the theater, backstage, through the orchestra creating chaos and destruction everywhere. Will Lazlo rescue the flower in time to present it to his Alice?

Readers will enjoy meeting the characters from Alice in Wonderland as the characters prepare for the performance. They will see the various aspects of putting on a play, from costume design to props. Not to mention, Steve Light includes a list of theatrical superstitions and invites the reader to find them within the illustrations in a “Where’s Waldo?” style hidden picture hunt.

The pen-and-ink illustrations are captivating and capture the tiniest of details. Primarily black and white, color is used to draw attention to the most important parts of each scene.

Lucky Lazlo is the perfect picture book for kids ages 3-7. Younger readers will enjoy the plot and the pacing of the story. Older readers will enjoy examining the illustrations for details and learning about the different theatrical superstitions.

Click here to purchase a copy of Lucky Lazlo (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of Lucky Lazlo in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

A Picture Books About Finding Your Purpose

Uncle Holland* is written by the same author that brought us Sidewalk Flowers JonArno Lawson. It is based on a true story about the author’s uncle, who exhibits a strong propensity for trouble. For example, he loves beautiful things and at times he cannot help pocketing them! He gets caught again and again and after the 37th time he is given a choice, jail or join the army.

He leaves behind a deeply disappointed family and travels to an exotic location where the beauty he encounters isn’t the kind that fits into his pockets. After all this time, Holland learns that instead of stealing, he can paint the things he thinks are beautiful so that he can keep them forever. He is even able to sell them in a local market to earn some money.

Uncle Holland is a powerful picture book because the protagonist is not perfect. In fact it is his imperfections and the journey he embarks on which leave the reader rooting for him. When Holland is caught for the 37th time, his brothers and parents become emotional and weighed down with worry. This book teaches us that Holland just has to find his own way.

Natalie Nelson’s beautiful illustrations are simple yet emotionally charged. Her use of blank space and use of color is powerful. At first, the illustrations are dominated by black, white and grays with occasional bright bursts of primary colors. When Holland travels south with the army, the setting changes drastically, revealing a world filled with color and wonder.

Uncle Holland is perfect for readers ages 4-8. The lesson will resonate with the older readers, while the illustrations will captivate younger ones.

Click here to purchase a copy of Uncle Holland (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of Uncle Holland in exchange for my honest review.

The Magic of Friendship

The Magic Rabbit* written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate is a wonderful story about the friendship between a magician named Ray and his rabbit Bunny. Partners in business and life, Ray and Bunny have a very special friendship. They enjoy doing everything together from preparing for magic shows to watching television and sharing a favorite snack (popcorn).

One busy Saturday afternoon, Ray and Bunny are performing their usual magic show when things go terribly wrong. In all the confusion, Bunny finds himself lost in a big, busy and unfamiliar city.

Just when all hope is almost lost, Bunny comes across some spilled popcorn and while enjoying this delectable snack, he notices something that might just lead him back to his best friend, Ray.

The Magic Rabbit is the perfect picture books for kids ages 3-8. The black and white drawings are punctuated with small pops of gold. The illustrations evoke strong emotions and capture the feel of a large, busy city perfectly. The story is told through a series of panels that resemble a comic and support the simple text perfectly.

Young readers will enjoy taking a closer look at the illustrations and talking about what they notice. The first few pages that are set in Ray and Bunny’s home is packed with details of their lives together. There are plenty of opportunities to consider how the characters are feeling and what the reader can learn about them as characters, for example Bunny is persistent and doesn’t give up on finding his friend Ray.

Click here to purchase a copy of The Magic Rabbit (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of The Magic Rabbit in exchange for my honest review.