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 Beautiful, Multicultural Coloring Book

Careers for Little Sisters is a very special coloring book that features realistic and inspirational career possibilities for young girls. It encourages young children to imagine their ideal jobs, from video game designers to doctors. Each page includes a short description that introduces the different job in an enthusiastic and accessible way. The pages reflect minority women in important, powerful roles, bringing multiculturalism to coloring books.

The Caterpillar Corner had a chance to chat with Melissa Del Toro Schaffner, creator of Careers for Little Sisters. Check out her answers to some of our questions below:

How did you come up with the idea for Careers for Little Sisters?

“Careers for Little Sisters” was born from a conversation I had with my mother back in 2015. Mom and I were marveling about the fact that many young girls spend their time coloring books about princesses, and pretending to be something that they most likely could not be as an adult. We were also amazed by the scarcity of realistic materials advertised for little girls (especially minority children) to color and dream about their futures. When we color, our imaginations take over and we dream about possibilities.

How did your own experiences growing up influence your decision to create Careers for Little Sisters?

Growing up a little Puerto Rican child in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA, I had no idea what possibilities were out there for me when I “grew up”. The only role models I truly looked up to in my life were my mom and dad. When faced with the decision to choose a college and a major at seventeen years old, I felt I only had two options – be a teacher like mom or an engineer like dad. I choose electrical engineering.

Why was it so important to you to create Careers for Little Sisters?
I created this series to explain a wide variety of careers children can consider when they grow up, and what kinds of people might like that particular kind of work. I also wanted to feature beautiful minority women in various occupations not normally held by women, let alone women of color. I believe it’s important for our future as humanity to encourage children to become exactly who they came here to be, and give them permission to dream BIG goals for themselves.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t see anyone else like you doing something you want to do. I’m so grateful for having parents and friends who supported my vision to enter a field (engineering) that still, in 1991, was predominantly white and male. I enjoyed a long career in a field I never could have dreamed I was capable of doing because I was not naturally good at math.
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Careers for Little Sisters in Spanish is also now available in Spanish.

Click here to purchase a copy of this wonderful coloring book (affiliate link).

 

Finding a Fur-ever Home

Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat is the perfect picture book for young cat lovers. The main character is a cat who lives a very busy life. Each day he makes his rounds, visiting the different homes up and down Blossom Street.

Each person he visits has a different name for him, hence the long title of the book. There is, however, one house he does not visit. Number eleven. Mrs. Murray, an elderly woman, lives along in her house, she spends her days knitting and watching television. Until one day Mrs. Murray receives a package and an unexpected surprise!

Days go by and nobody has seen the cat. Take a closer look at the beautiful illustrations to see how each person misses him in their own way! Mr. Green has a spare fish for him. Miss Fernandez lacks inspiration for her painting.

Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat has the perfect ending. One that brings together people of all ages and celebrates friendship and finding a forever home.

This is a delightful picture book for kids ages. Click here to purchase a copy of Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Little Ninjas and Their Dojo Master

The Dojo series*, which includes Dojo Daycare, Dojo Daytrip, and Dojo Surprise is bound to leave young readers giggling with delight. Written and illustrated by Chris Tougas, the series consists of a group of young ninjas who enjoy practicing their ninja skills (pulling, punching, taking and breaking).

Each book includes a different adventure, from attending daycare and planning a special surprise to going on a field trip. In each scenario, the Dojo Master tries to control the ninja kids, pleading with them to take time to reflect and to help those in need. In each book all hope is almost completely lost that the little ninjas will ever comply with his requests.

The poor Dojo Master repeats a different set of hysterical phrases in each book that children will love reading too! For example in the Dojo Daytrip it is “YIKES! YEE-OW!”

At the very end of each adventure, the little ninjas pull it together and order is restored. Ultimately it shows that the ninjas do have respect for their Master.

This series is wonderful because it is playful and fun. It is written in rhyme and jam-packed with illustrations that jump off each page. Young readers will be engaged from the first  page and will be requesting to read these books over and over again.

The Dojo books are great for readers ages 3-7.

Click here to purchase Dojo DaycareDojo Daytrip or Dojo Surprise (affiliate links).

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

A Unique and Imaginative Picture Book

Two damselflies discover a tiny green shoot one day and wonder du iz tak? What is that? The shoot begins to grow little by little and a pair of beetles arrive. Together they climb the stem and the budding leaves and decide they’d love to build a fort!

The different creatures work together to build the tree fort of their dreams. But, as in all great stories, they face their share of obstacles.

Du Iz Tak?* is written in a completely invented language, but the illustrations and repetition of words makes it easy to follow along. The body language of the characters along with the different punctuation and capital letters, helps convey the emotional setting. After rereading the story and pay close attention to the details, young readers may begin to solve the meaning of some of the different words.

Carson Ellis’ Du Iz Tak? is a must-have for every home library. It is beyond imaginative, it opens the door to a world filled with magic and wonder in the most simple of places, a backyard. His use of space in the illustrations is amazing, preserving the small scale of the different insect-like creatures, while allowing ample room for the plant to grow.

Du Iz Tak? won a Caldecott Honor and this book is perfect for readers age 3-8. This book would also be fantastic for students who are English Language Learners as well as struggling readers as it has multiple points of access and support. 

Click here to purchase a copy of Du Iz Tak? (affiliate link)

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Humorous Valentine’s Day Reads

XO, OX A Love Story* is a hilarious story about an ox who is in love with a gazelle. It consists of a series of back and forth correspondence between the two characters, revealing Ox’s complete devotion and admiration of Gazelle and Gazelle’s gradual but undeniably growing fondness for Ox.

The story begins with Ox penning a letter to Gazelle declaring his love for her. Ox receives a standard response letter with his name hand written in. When he responds to that letter, he receives the exact same letter once again. Ox writes back pointing this out to Gazelle, which elicits a real response from Gazelle.

XO, OX is a hilarious picture book, which will have young readers laughing in no time!

 

Hug It Out!* by Louis Thomas is a must have for parents with two or more children. Woody and Annie are experts when it comes to fighting with one another. Mother grows tired of constantly reminding them to share or to be kind to one another, so she comes up with a new strategy, every time they argue, they will have to hug.

At first, Woody and Annie have a hard time remembering the punishment, but after hugging so many times they grow tired of hugging and want to avoid having to do it anymore.

The story along with the illustrations, which includes a sneaky cat, capture the tension that may arise in a typical sibling relationship on a daily basis.

XO, OX is a great book for kids ages 4-8. Click here to purchase a copy of XO, OX (affiliate link).

Hug it Out! is perfect for readers ages 3-7. Click here to purchase a copy of Hug it Out! (affiliate link).

*I received complimentary copies of XO, OX and Hug it Out! in exchange for my honest review.

 

Valentine’s Day Board Books

Hedgehugs and the Hattiepillar is the second board book about two hedgehog friends, Hattie and Horace. They love doing everything together from trying to catch the moon to playing hide and seek. They also spend time together, but each doing what they like independently. One day, they discover a caterpillar egg underneath a leaf.

Hattie and Horace witness a wriggly, stripy thing (also known as a caterpillar) emerge from the egg. They watch as it eats and eats and then goes to sleep. They are amazed when one day something beautiful emerges from the bed and flies away.

The friends begin to wonder, if they eat a lot and sleep in a special bed, will they also turn into something wonderful and colorful too?

 

 

Hedgehugs and the Hattiepillar is a fantastic board book about friendship and embracing a playful spirit. This book would be a terrific addition to any home library along with Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 

This adorable board book is perfect for young readers ages 2-5. Lucy Tapper’s beautiful, colorful illustrations help get the reader thinking about spring and the changing of seasons.

Shiny Shapes: Love You Always by Roger Priddy reads either as a series of short four-line poems or as a complete story written in rhyme.

Each page is dedicated to a celebration of friendship or the love of family. The series of hearts cut out of the pages are captivating and help the reader get into the Valentine’s Day spirit.

Love You Always is the perfect book for the holiday, ideal for readers ages 2-5.

Click here to purchase a copy of Shiny Shapes: Love You Always and Hedgehugs and the Hattiepillar (affiliate links). 

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

 

Friendship and Imagination

Giselle Potter is a unique author and illustrator. Her books feature one-of-a-kind characters and tackle complex issues in a magnificent way. I was first introduced to Giselle Potter as the illustrator of Toni Morrison’s The Big Box. Her artistic style blends folk art and whimsy in a way that makes it easily recognizable as her own. Then I discovered The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter, which combines Potter’s illustrations with cut out words producing a lovely collage affect that contributes so much to the story. Needless to say, I was delighted to hear about This is My Dollhouse which is both written and illustrated by Giselle Potter.

The main character is a young girl who has made her own dollhouse out of different materials. She painted bricks on the outside of a cardboard box and divided the inside into sections which made up the rooms. Her family consists of a variety of figures, Daddy is a stuffed bear, and Grandma Mousey is a mouse.

My personal favorite is the elevator the twins ride up to the rooftop pool where they go swimming. The young girl takes great pride in her dollhouse as she has decided what to include and made it herself.

The girl’s friend Sophie also has a dollhouse, but Sophie’s dollhouse is store-bought and perfect. Every detail was decided for Sophie and so she has a hard time imagining the world for her dolls apart from what she has already been provided by the toy company. When the girl tries to make suggestions, Sophie resists. This creates tension between the two girls.

When Sophie comes over to play, the girl covers her dollhouse. She is nervous that it is not “perfect” like her friends. In fact she hides it beneath a blanket and hopes it goes unnoticed.

This is My Dollhouse is an inspiring picture book that promotes imagination, play and creative problem solving. It invites kids to make their own toys and dream up their own stories rather than playing in the worlds that are imagined for them by others. This is a remarkable picture book that is a must have for all kids.

Click here to purchase a copy of This is My Dollhouse (affiliate link). 

*I received a complimentary copy of This is My Dollhouse in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

The Perfect Picture Book for Chinese New Year

The Nian Monster* by Andrea Wang is a delightful story about the Chinese New Year. Xingling and her grandmother PoPo are getting the family apartment ready for the annual celebrations. PoPo shares with Xingling the legend of the Nian Monster, who would eat whole villages each new year. The villagers learned that the Nian Monster had three weaknesses, loud sounds, fire, and the color red. From then on, people decorated their homes with red banners and lanterns, drums and gongs, and lit firecrackers to keep the monster away. 

Suddenly and unexpectedly, the Nian Monster appears, threatening to terrorize the city and devour its inhabitants. It’s up to Xingling to outsmart the monster and save Shanhai. Xingling is a strong and clever female protagonist, reminiscent of Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess.

The Nian Monster teaches young readers about the Chinese New Year. From the casserole that Xingling helps her grandmother prepare to the noodles eaten to represent long life, we learn about many of the culinary traditions of the New Year in a fun way.

Alina Chau’s illustrations are colorful and playful watercolors that add an element of comedy to the text, instead of making it intimidating or scary. The Nian Monster is adorable, with its warm color scales and large, round eyes.

The Nian Monster is not only a wonderful book for celebrating the Chinese New Year, but can be read year round as a picture book with a strong female character. This book is perfect for readers ages 4-8.

Click here to purchase a copy of The Nian Monster (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of The Nian Monster in exchange for my honest review.

The Perfect Book for Dog Lovers

Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess* written and illustrated by Janet Hill is a collection of life lessons Miss Moon learns from her experience taking care of 67 dogs in France. This is a cheeky book that tucks in that the lessons are key to raising well-mannered dogs (and humans). The text is simple and accompanied by vivid and highly-detailed paintings. Upon closer examination, the reader will see humorous details infused in each.

Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess is perfect for kids ages 3-8. Young readers will absolutely love studying the artwork throughout and considering how it conveys, or contradicts, the lessons. The lesson from the page above is to “make the most of any weather,” whereas the lesson from the page below is to “practice the art of conversation: list more than you speak.”

Click here to purchase a copy of Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess in exchange for my honest review.