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).

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.

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.

 

 

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.

The Challenge of Sounding it Out

I was immediately drawn to Phoebe Sounds It Out by Julie Zwillich when I read the synopsis. This is the perfect book for any child whose name isn’t easy to pronounce or to spell. My husband’s last name is 13-letters long and contains several silent Hs. It’s very rare for someone to pronounce it correctly. I cannot help but worry how our daughter will respond when posed with the challenge of spelling her last name when that time comes. I think Phoebe Sounds It Out will be the perfect addition to her library to encourage her to try her best.

When Phoebe’s teachers announce that the class will be practicing writing their names, Phoebe does her best to avoid the task. She sees her name which has been stitched onto her backpack by her mom, but that name starts with a P and she knows her name starts with the “Fff” sound. She figures that her mom made a mistake.

Phoebe’s teachers encourage her to try her best and to sound it out. The classroom environment is one that allows her to take risks and to try her best as she stretches out the letter sounds and slowly writes each letter. Her efforts are celebrated and her work goes up on display along with all her classmates’.

Phoebe Sounds It Out is a wonderful picture book for reluctant writers. It encourages kids to take risks and to take pride in their work. The illustrations by Denise Holmes perfectly capture the mood of the story, from Phoebe’s nervousness to the calm energy in the classroom. This book is relatable and accessible to readers of all ages.

The Caterpillar Corner and Owlkids Books have partnered in a very special giveaway of Phoebe Sounds It Out. For additional details please click here.

Click here to purchase a copy of Phoebe Sounds It Out (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of Phoebe Sounds It Out in exchange for my honest review.

When Small Gestures Become Great Gifts

Sidewalk Flowers was conceived by Jon Arno Lawson and beautifully illustrated by Sydney Smith. This picture book is a wordless wonder. A young girl dressed in a red is walking along the busy sidewalks with her distracted father.

The young girl is curious. While those around her are focused on where they are going, she notices the smallest of details. She suddenly she discovers two small yellow dandelions growing in between the cracks of the sidewalk and so she picks them. As they continue walking together she picks many different types of weeds and wildflowers, creating a beautiful bouquet in her hands. On their way through the park, the father and daughter pass a dead bird. She is compelled to leave some flowers to honor the small creature. Then slowly, she gives away the rest of the flowers. From a man sleeping on a bench to a neighborhood dog.

Sydney Smith’s pen and ink illustrations are composed primarily of white, black and grays. At first the girl’s jacket and the flowers are simple splashes of color, but each time she gives her flowers away, more color is added to the world around her. The story is told using a series of panels with varied perspectives.

Sidewalk Flowers is a stunning book that invites the reader on a journey along with a humble and empathetic protagonist. We are encouraged to slow down and notice our surroundings. We are inspired to be intentional in our actions and kind to others.

This picture book is perfect readers ages 3-10. Younger readers will enjoy looking at the beautiful illustrations and talking about what is happening in the story. Older readers can explore the more complex social issues that arise across the pages as well as the author and illustrator’s craft moves. What I love about wordless books like Sidewalk Flowers is that they are accessible to all learners.

 

 

A Perfectly Moving Book About Loss

 

  My Yellow Balloon by Tiffany Papageorge is a wonderful and touching picture book about loss, portrayed through the experience of a young boy losing his beloved yellow balloon. The story is set in the 1930s, a carnival comes to town and young Joey sees a balloon man selling balloons. The beautiful mass of balloons hover in the air, mesmerizing the young boy. Unable to select one, the balloon man picks a yellow balloon for the young boy and ties it to his wrist.

The yellow balloon becomes Joey’s companion, joining him on his various adventures. Then one day, the unexpected happens. The balloon slips off of Joey’s wrist. He has no choice but to watch helplessly as his friend and companion floats up and up, away from the young boy. He is devastated. All color drains from the illustrations to help convey the intensity of his sadness.

Across the following pages, he experiences a range of emotions from anger to sadness. But in his dreams, Joey and his balloon are reunited.

Time passes slowly and Joey goes from missing his balloon all of the time to a lot of the time and some of the time. The ending of the story is precious and powerful. Though Joey is never reunited with his yellow balloon, he learns an invaluable lesson about transition and loss.

My Yellow Balloon is an incredible picture book that tackles such an important social issue in a way that is accessible for kids. There are not many books that deal with loss in a way that is easy for all young readers to relate to.

The Caterpillar Corner had the opportunity to speak with Tiffany Papageorge about her book My Yellow Balloon, a conversation which left us in complete awe of a book we already fell in love with. Each detail of the illustrations is carefully crafted, and plays as important of a role in the story as the text itself. For example, the change in the color palette of the illustrations reflect Joey’s innocence at the beginning of the story and later validate the importance of his experience toward the end. Another example includes all of the toys in his dream are found in different scenes of the book, with the exception of the pink unicorn.

In speaking with Tiffany Papageorge, we talk a lot about the power of loss to transform us as individuals. This lesson comes across in such a sophisticated way through the pages of My Yellow Balloon.

Click here to purchase a copy of My Yellow Balloon (affiliate link).

For more information about Tiffany Papageorge, including her in-school programs, please visit her website.