Animal Colours, Animal 123 and Animal ABC

Animal Colours, Animal 123, Animal ABC
Nikolas Ilic
Happy Yak

Three titles in a new First Concepts series feature some wonderfully wacky animal characters.

In the Colours book a twisty twirly snake and a grabbing crab introduce red, both fox and orangutan have orange fur, lion and a quacking duck are yellow, green is the skin of both a crocodile and a wide-mouthed frog, blue are the whale and a tweeting bird while other creatures are purple, pink, brown, grey, black or white. Then come multi-coloured chameleon and rainbow-beaked toucan, with the final spread showing all the animals featured.

123 has a different animal for each of the numbers 1 to 12 a double spread being allocated to a honey loving bear, 2 sharp toothed crocs, 3 racoons, 4 playful dogs, 5 staring black cats, six BAA-ing sheep, 7 grumpy frogs, 8 clucking chickens, 9 mucky pigs, 10 munching rabbits, 11 COO-ing pigeons and twelve toothy fish; and the final spread shows them numbering off with an invitation to count them one by one.

As well as being introduced to the alphabet in Animal ABC, little ones can discover an interesting fact about each of the featured creatures. For instance, did you know that a Gecko can’t blink so cleans its eyes by licking them with its long tongue?

Young children don’t acquire concepts from books but through a variety of experiences; these playful board books will help concept development but most important, they’re fun to share.

Have Fun With Boardbooks

Splish, Splash!
Sophie Ledesma and Isobel Otter
Little Tiger
What will Little Fish discover as it swims around beneath the ocean? By manipulating the various sliding mechanisms little ones will discover sea creatures large and small before bidding goodnight to the sleepy Little Fish that has splashed its way right through to the penultimate spread where there’s a convenient place to hide itself behind. ZZZZZ … 

On the final spread all the other creatures that were encountered on the previous pages are labelled. Huge fun and great for developing fine motor skills. Sophie Ledesma’s playful illustrations are full of patterns that add to the visual impact throughout this ‘slide and seek’ book.

Ladybird Ladybird What Can You See?
Pintachan
Little Tiger
This is the latest addition to Pintachan’s brightly illustrated lift-the-flap series wherein Amelia Hepworth introduces positional words – in, behind, inside and under during the game with Ladybird and Ant wherein various other partially hidden minibeasts depicted on the flaps are revealed by lifting the flaps. Ant too is revealed saying in turn ‘It’s Butterfly!’, ‘It’s Spider!’, ‘It’s Bee!’ ‘It’s Worm!’ while the final spread has a mirror hidden under its flap. 

With its simple, repeat refrain rhyming text this is huge fun to share with the very young as well as for beginning readers to read to their younger brothers or sisters. Ant has a different fruit or portion of one on each spread so this offers lots of talk potential – what is it? Who will eat it etc.

Where’s My Puppy?
Becky Davies, illustrated by Kate McLelland
Little Tiger
The mischievous looking puppy shown on the cover of this book has almost disappeared by the first spread and little ones can enjoy following the colourful footprints through the rest of the spreads to discover his whereabouts on the final page. Before that though they encounter in turn Guinea Pig, Kitten, and Pony each of which shares a feature in common with the pup. Guinea Pig has soft fur, Kitten a fluffy tail and Pony’s tongue is rough giving youngsters a variety of tactile experiences as they join in the game to find Puppy. 

With a repeat question on each spread this offers a joining in opportunity too.

Go Go Apple
Claire Philip and Steven Wood
Sunbird Books
I’ve never really considered what happens to apple cores collected in food waste as I always throw mine into a bin that’s emptied straight onto our own compost heap. So, it was interesting to see this title in the ‘My first recycling series’ and be able to follow the journey of one core from collection by a truck to the recycling plant and thence into a large machine where it’s mixed with leaves and other waste food and shredded. Some then goes off to become compost, the rest being liquified for farm manure or made into a gas that can be used for the heat and electricity of homes and cars.

With plenty of accompanying onomatopoeic sounds to join in with, a simple narrative description and fun illustrations, this is an interactive book to share with the very young be that at home or in an early years setting.

Peekaboo Sun
Camilla Reid and Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow
Babies and toddlers love to play peekaboo especially when there’s a mirror involved so they’ll thoroughly enjoy this addition to the sliders series with its fishes, sunshine, ice cream boat, crab and other things with a seaside theme. Rhyming couplets introduce the items in Ingela P Arrhenius’s jolly, patterned illustrations.

Great fun and an opportunity for little ones to develop their fine motor skills.

For Your Toddler Bookshelf

I’m thinking of a Jungle Animal
Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Lucia Gaggiotti
Nosy Crow

Each of the the four wide-eyed child participants in the ‘I’m thinking of …’ game has a different jungle animal in mind. What do these creatures look like? What do they eat? What sound do they make? Little humans are invited to think about the simple clues, have a guess based on the information provided, search for the animal hiding in Lucia Gaggiotti’s colourful jungle scene and finally, pull the slider to discover the answer to the rhyming clues. Fun learning for the very young.

100 First Words: City
illustrated by Edward Underwood
Nosy Crow

Edward Underwood features city life in this second large format, super-stylish board book, devoting a double spread to in turn, the street, a railway station, the zoo, a supermarket. a museum, a (swimming) pool and a restaurant. Using a grid format and bright, colourful illustrations like the previous book, Underwood introduces a variety of nouns: for instance in the supermarket toddlers will see such items as tomato, trolley, toilet paper, broccoli, cashier, till, boxes and there are two sturdy, shaped flaps to look under. On this spread there’s a tin inside which are fish, and boxes that reveal an assistant.

This book is likely to prove invaluable in helping to build vocabulary at that vital stage when toddlers are learning to talk. One hopes adults will use this as stimulus for speech by asking questions like ‘what shall we put in the trolley?’ as they share the book with a little one.

Home Is Where the Heart Is
Emma Dodd
Templar Books

We all have things that make our particular home feel special and so it is with Emma Dodd’s thoughtful big cat and a playful little kitten. For the feline twosome, home’s a place to spend time playing and resting; a warm safe haven from stormy weather, as well as somewhere special no matter if its residents are there together or for some reason, apart.

Emma’s distinctive golden touches embellish her adorable feline illustrations on alternate spreads and her rhyming narrative told from the adult cat’s viewpoint.

A Celebration of Dads

My Dad
Susan Quinn and Marina Ruiz
Words & Pictures

A small child celebrates their dad, and the everyday activities – real and imaginary – that make him and the days they share together so special.

In Susan Quinn’s first person rhyming narrative the child presents such things as baking, growing vegetables, grocery shopping, going for picnics and bathing, moving through the different seasons and kinds of weather: ‘If it rains, we splash through puddles, / stomp through leaves of gold and red. / And gaze at a colourful rainbow, / big above my head.’

Marina Ruiz’s illustrations are suffused with the love shared between Dad and child, while her colour palette alters to reflect the changing seasons.

No matter the particular home situation of the young reader/listener and Dad this sensitively written book is one to enjoy together.

What is Daddy Going To Do?
Carly Madden and Juliana Perdomo
Words & Pictures

This is a fun lift the flap book for toddlers to enjoy, especially with a dad. It features diverse dads, one portrayed holding or wearing an item on the flap of each recto, while opposite the text says for instance, ‘Daddy has a stopwatch. / What is Daddy going to do?’ Having had a guess, little ones lift the large, sturdy flap to reveal the answer. (‘Start the family sports day!’)

In all there are six fun activities that Daddy does with his child or children – Fly to the moon, play in the forest, build a pirate ship, play in a band and make some noise, and read a bedtime story.


Little ones will want to join in with the repeat question and the (hidden) sounds, as well as lifting the flap (great for developing fine motor skills) and they’ll certainly enjoy exploring Juliana Perdomo’s bright, gently humorous illustrations and making predictions about the hidden activities.

Daddy
Leslie Patricelli
Walker Books

The adorable one-haired baby is back to introduce Daddy. Said male parent is ‘so big and strong’, his ‘legs are so, so long.’ The infant then enjoys a playful time with Daddy – riding piggyback, trying to touch the sky, feeling his unshaven scratchy face, fleeing from a pretend monster, singing, wrestling till they need a rest.
At other times Dad is busy so baby helps him cook and clean and much more.

Our baby narrator also introduces several other dads pointing out that each one is different be that ‘Dressy … Messy … Bald … Hairy … Tall or Short’ before pointing out the ideal nature of ‘My Daddy’.

With its rhyming text and warm, lively scenes of baby and Daddy, this is a delight for the very youngest.

On a Building Site / How it Works: Rocket / Dinosaur Snap! The Spinosaurus

What Can You See? On a Building Site
Kate Ware and Maria Perera
Little Tiger

The building site herein is destined to become a brand new primary school. Youngsters (hard hats donned) can follow the action from the demolition of an old building to the school’s near completion. There are lots of vehicles visiting and working on site including lorries, a digger, a bulldozer, a crane and a cement mixer. It’s good to see both men and women hard at work carrying out their various roles, building, operating machinery (including a woman in a scissor lift, bricklaying, trench digging, tiling, fitting windows and solar panels and more.

In addition to the narrative describing the entire process there are questions to encourage little ones to hone their observation skills by searching for a little mouse, a white cat and other items. With die-cuts and lots of details in the illustrations this will keep your little one’s ears and eyes engaged as you share the book.

The same is true of

How It Works: Rocket
Amelia Hepworth and David Semple
Little Tiger

Get ready to zoom off into space as you read this with your toddler. It starts by explaining briefly what a rocket is and how astronauts use a service tower to get inside. David Semple’s spreads show the release of some of the rocket parts no longer required; an astronaut floating in space beside a command module; the same astronaut walking on the moon’s surface and another flying the rocket. Then come preparations for the return to earth including the ejection of everything no longer needed and finally, splashdown and the collection of the rocket and astronauts by a ship.

Simple language and illustrations to which a touch of playfulness courtesy of a tiny mouse passenger are added, provide a first introduction to the popular topic of space.

Dinosaur Snap! The Spinosaurus
Macmillan Children’s Books

A spinosaurus takes centres stage in this rhyming story inspired by the Strickland’s hugely popular Dinosaur Roar book. Said to be the scariest beast ever it lies in wait for other dinos. such as the young stegosaurus that accidentally gives it a whack with its tail. Its next encounter is with a wily oviraptor that induces an attack of dizziness in Snap before making a dash for it.
Now pretty peckish, Snap sets its sights on the compsognathus aka Dinosaur Squeak luring the little creature down to the water’s edge where a very big surprise awaits …

Created in association with the Natural History Museum this amusing sequence of events ends with a spread giving some basic information about Spinosaurus’s features and also sends young listeners back to the start of the book in a game of seek and find. Look out for further stories in the World of Dinosaur Roar.

Colours, Pretend Play, Nursery Fun and an Angry Bear

Colours
Tim Hopgood
Oxford Children’s Books

Here’s a lovely introduction to the wonderful world of colour for the very young. After presenting the primary colours with gorgeous images of the natural world, Tim Hopgood next shows the result of mixing first red and yellow, then yellow and blue, folllowed by blue and red. He then goes on to say that some things change colour during the year: a rose that’s pink in spring might fade to white in the summer, while summer’s green leaves often turn brown when autumn comes. Whereas ripening tomatoes change from green to red as the sun helps them ripen and yellow bananas, if left eventually blacken.
Best of all however is the final gatefold, opening to reveal a glorious … rainbow.

Let’s Pretend: Animal Hospital
Nicola Edwards and Thomas Elliott
Little Tiger

An animal hospital is the backdrop for young children’s role-play in this new title in the My World series. Thomas Elliott’s illustrations are a fusion of photograph and digital imagery showing the children giving a check-up to a dog, sharing the contents of a vet’s medical kit, showing the range of animals they treat and the variety of tasks they perform on pets large and small. Nicola’s narrative gives voice to the young children imagining what it might be like to be part of the team whose job is to care for the animals that visit their hospital.
This shaped-book would make a lovely addition to a role-play area in a nursery or other early years setting.

Bear & Mouse Go to Nursery
Nicola Edwards and Maria Neradova
Little Tiger

Best friends Mouse and Bear return and now they’ve started going to nursery. It’s there little humans can enjoy spending the day with them as they experiment with paint, have fun outside in the playground, share their snacks, take a nap and participate in a noisy music making session. With flaps to lift and sliders to move, this is another book of interactive fun delightfully illustrated by Maria Neradova who includes just the right amount of detail in each of her colourful spreads.

Angry Bear
Dr Naira Wilson and David Creighton-Pester
Little Tiger

Very young children, babies even, enjoy tactile books such as this one from the publisher’s Touch & Feelings series. Herein we’re introduced to Bear who on this particular morning is feeling grouchy, particularly round his middle.
perhaps keeping to his normal routine that includes some sweet tasting honey might help improve his mood unless … oops, you drop it. GRRRRR – that’s the best way to vent your anger; after which hopefully, you’ll be back to your normal calm, contented self: breathing deeply helps.
As though speaking directly to her protagonist, clinical psychologist specialising in childhood mental health, Dr Naira Wilson writes in a chatty style and the book is illustrated by David Creighton-Pester, whose pictures of the bear show the character’s range of feelings with gentle humour.

Make Tracks: Building Site / Go Go Tin

Make Tracks: Building Site
Johnny Dryander
Nosy Crow

In one of a new interactive series, Johnny Dryander illustrates five vehicles often found on a building site – those that small children are fascinated by when they see them for real.

Each one – concrete mixer,

dump truck, excavator, bulldozer and front loader – is presented on the verso in a clearly labelled picture along with a brief introductory paragraph giving some information about its key features and what it is used for. There’s also a question for little ones to consider.

On the opposite page, with additional prompts for opening up discussion, is a scene showing people and machines at work on the site. This contains a track around which little fingers can manipulate a counter depicting the vehicle illustrated on the facing page in response to the ‘Can you drive this … “ challenge. (This feature is also part of the front cover.)

With lots of potential for fun learning be that of related language or fine motor skill development, this will be particularly popular with young enthusiasts of large building site machines.

Go Go Tin
Claire Philip and Steven Wood
Sunbird Books

This sturdy board book explains in simple words and bright cheery pictures what happens to a tin can from the time it’s tossed into a kitchen recycling bin until it becomes part of one of the shiny new tins produced at a factory.

With its onomatopoeic sounds aplenty to join in with, little ones will enjoy following the sequence of events from lorry to recycling plant, through a crushing machine, into a furnace to melt and be formed into new blocks, ready for stamping, stretching and further shaping.

A Celebration of Board Books

Here’s a handful of recent Little Tiger Board Books – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

First Nature: Ladybird
Harriet Evans and Bryony Clarkson

Following on from Caterpillar in this ‘first nature’ flap-book series is the equally playful Ladybird. Very young children will love Bryony Clarkson’s bright alluring, textured art and Harriet’s brief, sometimes alliterative rhyming text as Ladybird scuttles and scurries, hastens and hurries across the cleverly cut-away pages, slowing to feed, feel fear, fall and fly to the nest, finally ready to hibernate.

Elephant Elephant What Can You See?
Pintachan

Accompanied by a questioning chirpy bird friend, Elephant takes a wander in this lift-the-flap book, and the two play a kind of hide-and-seek game with the animals that are tucked away in turn, beneath the lily pad, in the tall grass, under water and behind a tree. Then, on the final spread, when the final flap is lifted, there’s a surprise mirror so tinies will come face to face with their own image.
With Pintachan’s simple, bright images and the repeat patterned rhyming narrative, this is likely to be a winner with little ones.

Beep Beep! Builders
Becky Davies and Gareth Lucas

Be ready for a noisy time when you share this with your little one. Set on a building site, we meet the boss Little B and his five co-workers. There’s Digger, Mixer, Crane, all of which are somewhat over-enthusiastic, as well as a roller and a tip-up truck. Having dug, mixed, built and lifted all day long, come sundown the boss praises their teamwork and suggests it’s time for play.
Tinies will love pressing the squishy bodies of the jolly diggers as they follow their actions and join in the rumbling, tooting, whirring and other sounds.

For a slightly older audience is

Your Body
Harriet Evans and Lirios Bou

Another of the cleverly designed ‘switch-a-picture’ books with Harriet’s rhyming presentation of in turn, the skeleton, breathing, eating, thinking and the circulatory system accompanied by Lirios Bou’s subtly coloured images of children’s bodies, first clad and then, when the central tab on each page edge is pulled, the related internal working are revealed along with additional relevant information.

A to Z: An Alphabet of Animals
illustrated by Linda Tordoff

Published under the Caterpillar Books imprint this lift-the-flap board book presents animals large and small; but where are they? They’re all hiding, just waiting to be discovered by eager fingers opening their respective initial letter flaps. Little ones can meet creatures feathered, furry, scaly and smooth all stylishly illustrated in subtle colours.

Stop That Dinosaur! / Mamasaurus

Stop That Dinosaur!
Alex English and Ben Cort
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

‘I was in my Granny’s kitchen eating extra-special cake / when the walls began to tremble / and the room began to SHAKE. / The window panes all rattled / and there was a MIGHTY ROAR!’

Granny responds to the knocking at her door, opens it up and lets out a mighty scream as a brontosaurus grabs her by her sweater and runs away on its very fast feet.

Hot on the trail comes the little girl narrator on her scooter, whizzing along the road to the playground, throughout the high street and out into the countryside showing no signs of slowing whatsoever. Through fields of corn, uphill and down go pursuer and pursued until the girl finally loses sight of the beast in the depths of the dark wood.

Is that the end of Granny? Will the girl ever see her again?

Alex’s brilliantly paced rhyming text really builds up the tension and sense of anticipation as the story races along; combined with Ben Cort’s splendidly dramatic illustrations with their plethora of amusing details (love those scattering rabbits), this is terrific read aloud book and I suspect it will fast become a rip roaring favourite with foundation stage listeners (not to mention their grans).

In board book format for younger dino, enthusiasts is

Mamasaurus
Stephan Lomp
Chronicle Books

Babysaurus loves to ride atop his Mamasaurus’s back from where he can nibble at the juicy leaves. One day though, he slips right down to the very tip of her tail and ‘Wheeeeeee!’ Having extricated himself from the leaves, he cannot see his mama at all – where can she be?

Off he goes wandering through the wild landscape, searching and each time he encounters another creature he asks, (just like the baby bird in P.D. Eastman’s classic Are You My Mother? “Have you seen my mama?”

Little humans will love joining in the repeat question and enjoy the stand-out images, set against black, used throughout the sweet story.

Bees, Trees and Planet Earth

Bees
Trees

illustrated by Carmen Saldaña
Please Help Planet Earth!
illustrated by Paulina Morgan
Ladybird Books

It’s never too soon to introduce young children to the environment protection cause and these sturdy books offer a good starting point.

Devoting each of its six spreads to a different aspect of Bees, young children are introduced to the vital role these little insects play in keeping the planet healthy; explains the role of bees in pollination; takes readers inside a honeybee hive; looks at honey and beekeepers; explains why the number of bees is in decline and finally suggests some ways in which everyone can help save these important little creatures.

Trees is similar in structure. First is an explanation if their importance to all life on earth. Second is a simple look at the various parts of a tree and their interconnectedness. There’s a spread on seasonal changes; another presenting some of the thousands of different kinds of tree and deforestation and its consequences is briefly discussed while the final spread is again ‘How can you help?’. Carmen Saldana’s illustrations are child-friendly and in both books there are flaps to explore on every page.

In Paulina Morgan’s diverse, alluring scenes Planet Earth itself takes the narrative role in the third book, issuing an earnest plea for help to protect its various ecosystems and their flora and fauna by making small but crucial changes to the way we live.

In keeping with their ‘protecting our planet!’ theme, all three books are made from recycled board and printed with plant-based inks.

Zoom: Dinosaur Adventure / Rainforest Adventure & Grow

Zoom: Dinosaur Adventure
Susan Hayes and Sam Rennocks
Zoom: Rainforest Adventure
Susan Hayes and Susanna Rumiz
What on Earth Books

Both stories take young children on amazing journeys, the first involving best friends Jasmine and Jamie, the second, Lin.

Jasmine and Jamie use their time machine to take them back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Their first encounter is with a hungry Alamosaurus that they observe by climbing high into the treetops. They also meet a Maiasaura, Triceratops, Beelzebufo (a prehistoric frog), a whole pack of Velociraptors, a flying pterosaur

and many others including Jamie’s favourite – a Triceratops – make that two – there’s a mother and baby. Their adventure concludes when they sight an asterdoid heading their way so they make for the time machine and escape – just.

Lin uses a more conventional mode of transport for her Rainforest Adventure; she canoes off down the Amazon accompanied by her pet monkey. Having tied up the canoe, Lin then starts her trek through the lush forest wherein she meets around thirty different inhabitants including hyacinth macaws, several different snakes, hummingbirds, a poison dart frog, three-toed sloths and a procession of leaf cutter ants. She misses sighting a tarantula and an armadillo as they pass her tent while she sleeps. Next morning she spies some tapirs drinking but they’re suddenly alarmed by the sight of a jaguar. After a bit of raft-building

and an unexpected plunge into the river, Lin realises her rucksack is gone. How will she get back? Surprisingly she sees a hot air balloon and up and off she goes …

Both books begin and end in the children’s own rooms and young listeners will realise that therein are many of the components of the imaginary adventures. There’s a penultimate pop-out spread in both stories as well as lots of die-cuts on every spread to add to the interactive enjoyment of the vicarious experiences.

Grow (Little Nature)
illustrated by Pau Morgan
Caterpillar Books

In this book little ones can discover the changes that occur between seed and plant using the examples of an acorn, seeds from various flowers, a dropped blackberry and an apple tree. Die-cut peep holes add to the enjoyment of the four, two-page sequences of planting, the animals involved, and the outcomes. The alluring illustrations by Pau Morgan have an earthiness about them thanks to being printed on recycled board.

Toddler Bookshelf

The Great Big Egg Hunt
Ekaterina Trukhan
Nosy Crow
It’s a special egg hunting day with Rabbit and her friends. Having collected her basket, Rabbit and readers start the search. First Chick joins in and they search the bathroom where they discover Duck but no eggs. The search continues in the kitchen then moves out into the garden where eventually, after a few false starts, the five friends have an egg each. Hurrah!
With its simple, predictable text, plenty of flaps to explore and cute illustrations, little ones will enjoy participating in this seasonal search-and-find game.

Not quite a board book but sturdily made is:

Pip and Posy: The Friendly Snail
Axel Scheffler and Camilla Reid
Nosy Crow
Best friends Pip and Posy are spending time together outdoors in the garden. Pip is enjoying a spot of peaceful gardening but Posy is in a noisy mood banging and bouncing around. Suddenly Pip discovers a friendly snail while Posy continues with her noisy play, even frightening the snail back inside its shell. Enough is enough: Pip tells Posy to go away and upset, she disappears somewhere leaving Pip to continue with his work. So engaged is he that he fails to notice another creature getting ever closer to the snail. Happily Posy has been watching and now has the ideal reason to make a lot of noise …
An engaging tale illustrated in Alex’s trademark style, demonstrating an important life lesson: differences should be valued if friendships are to flourish.

Sleep, Cat, Sleep
Antje Damm
Prestel
The cat in this little board book is not happy; he’s trying hard to sleep but the fact that somebody has opened the first page has roused him from his slumbers. He tries hiding and pleading, which seem to do the trick, but then the page is turned again and those delightful dreams disappear. However the sleepy creature perceives that the destroyer of his dreams is now also rather in need of some shut-eye – maybe it’s time to turn the tables …
Simple, playful, interactive fun for pre-bedtime sharing with sleepy little humans.

A Little Snail Book: Hide-and-Seek
Shasha Lv
Chronicle Books
Bear is playing hide-and-seek with his friends, Little Mouse, Little Turtle, Little Cat, Little Duck, Little Pig and Little Snail. Despite their best efforts he successfully finds all but Little Snail. The other animals are amused at the fact that the tiny creature is hiding in plain sight and little humans will have a good giggle at the fact that the smallest animal can outwit the seeker. It’s he that acts as narrator sharing his search in a simple first person narrative throughout the game.
Silly but lots of fun; Shasha Lv uses a limited colour palette effectively in her amusing scenes of the animals’ game.

All Manner of Board Books

Hello You!
illustrated by Stephen Barker
Campbell Books
With its die-cut cover, this is a smashing book for adults to share with their babies. Herein they can meet familiar family faces : mummy (being funny), daddy doing a wiggly dance, a snoozing grandad and a snuggly grandma.
The final spread is a gatefold guessing game that’s just right for developing early language and there is also an additional peep hole to play peek-a-boo.
Stephen Barker’s alluring captioned images stand out from the brightly coloured backgrounds.

Lizzy the Lamb
Axel Scheffler
Campbell Books
Lizzy the lamb is a lively creature. As she frolics and cavorts in the fields, she sometimes gets splashed by the geese so she shakes her fleece dry before moving on to chase the bunnies, but they’re too quick for her. It’s a tired but happy Lizzy that ends the day bleating her satisfaction, with a “Baa, baa!” to her farmyard pals.
Accompanying the rhyming narrative are Alex Scheffler’s droll illustrations – the full page ones capturing Lizzy’s joie de vivre perfectly and the vignettes that focus on some of the other animal characters. Little ones will enjoy working the sliders and wheel, joining in with the relevant animal sounds and perhaps, adding some leaping, shaking and hopping actions. In so doing they’ll be developing their fine and gross motor skills, and sound/symbol awareness.

Honeybee
illustrated by Teresa Bellon
Campbell Books
A honeybee acts as the narrator of this ‘eco-friendly’ natural history book, introducing little ones to her world through a rhyming text and labelled scenes.
The latter offer a look inside a beehive and a close up of a honeycomb while the bee describes simply, the processes of pollination, the collection and use of nectar in the making of honey, as well as how little humans can help the honeybees that live close to their homes.
Teresa Bellon’s illustrations of bees at work are engaging and playful; most have moving parts to add to the fun. Aimed at encouraging preschoolers to become nature lovers, this is one of a new “My Little Green World’ series that are sustainably made with FSC paper and printed with vegetable inks.

Goodnight Farm
Carmen Saldaña
Little Tiger
Peep-through pages enable little ones to discover a wealth of farm animals and bid them a “goodnight” as, accompanied by a collie dog, and guided by Becky Davies’ brief rhyming narrative, they visit a hillside, a grassy pasture, hen house, a pond, the stable, a flock of sheep in the field as the moon shines bright above.
In addition to the main rhyme, simple farm related facts are scattered throughout Carmen Saldaña’s starlight scenes offering simple snippets of information such as ‘Ducks can sleep right on the water.’ or ‘Pigs sleep a lot – up to 11 hours a day!’ (something even this adult reviewer didn’t know.)
Just right for sharing with sleepy humans just before bed.

Let’s Go! On a Plane
Let’s Go! On a Digger

Rosalyn Albert and Natalia Moore
Catch a Star
Whether they prefer the excitement of boarding an aeroplane and jetting off to a holiday destination in the tropics or keeping their feet firmly on the ground and watching the digger driver hard at work on a construction site, the very youngest children will find plenty to interest them in these new additions to the popular Let’s Go series.
In both books children act as narrators of Rosalyn Albert’s simple text which takes the form of rhyming couplets, while Natalia Moore’s strikingly coloured spreads fill in the detail.

First Nature: Caterpillar / Little Hen Little Hen What Can You See? / When Mummy Goes to Work

First Nature: Caterpillar
Harriet Evans and Bryony Clarkson
Caterpillar Books (Little Tiger)

By means of a lovely playful, descriptive rhyming text – ‘Caterpillar chomps and caterpillar crunches. // Caterpillar chews / and caterpillar munches.’ and clever cutaway pages with flaps, author Harriet and illustrator Bryony present the life cycle of an eponymous butterfly.
Additional information snippets are hidden beneath the flaps making this fun for little fingers to explore, as well as little ears to enjoy.

Little Hen Little Hen What Can You See?
Amelia Hepworth and Pintachan
Little Tiger

Little humans will love accompanying the little hen as it wanders around the farmyard and in response to the titular question posed on each spread by the friendly little bee, discovers the various creatures hiding in plain sight and named when the flap is lifted to reveal in turn Mouse, Cow, Horse, Sheep. Beneath the final flap is a mirror so tinies will come face to face with their own image.
The simple, repeat pattern text and Pintachan’s bold bright images of the animal characters offer a hide-and-seek game for toddlers and adults to enjoy together, probably over and over again.

When Mummy Goes to Work
Paul Schofield and Anna Terreros-Martin
Templar Publishing

This is a cleverly crafted little book, the first in a new series and it’s ideal for a parent just returning to work after the birth of a child, to share with a little one.

Having breakfasted together, Mum dons her paramedic’s uniform and bids farewell to her child, leaving Nan and Grandad in charge.

Events from her working day are then chronicled in a first person rhyming narrative illustrated with small images on each verso – driving the ambulance,

tending a patient in bed, pushing a wheel chair, examining someone’s ears.

These are mirrored in full page, detailed scenes on the recto, showing the child playing out similar scenarios.

As if speaking directly to the little one, author Paul Schofield uses the mother’s reassuring voice for the sequence of verses; illustrator Anna Terreros-Martin’s visual interpretations are an absolute delight and full of wonderful details to pore over.

Little Tiger Board Books for Little Humans

Day and Night
Harriet Evans and Lirios Bou

There are five different locations – a temperate forest, a desert (wherein I encountered a hyrax for the first time), marshes, a savannah and a steamy tropical jungle – to visit in this ’switch-a-picture’ book, both during the daytime and then, by means of a series of tabs on each recto, at night. Thus for example in the marshes rather than the seeing “Bright dragonflies swarm through blue sunny skies,’ if the tab is pulled, these disappear from the window and are replaced by a much darker sky wherein fireflies make looping patterns. While in the jungle instead of the monkeys climbing trees that are visible in daytime, a pull of the tab reveals bats.
Innovative, and engaging, with attractive illustrations by Lirios Bou and Harriet Evans’ brief rhyming text and additional facts hidden until the tabs are tugged, this is a fun book for day or evening sharing with the very young.

I Can Learn: Dinosaurs
Lauren Crisp and Thomas Elliott

New in the publisher’s I Can Learn series, Dinosaurs has both cutaway pages and flaps. Starting at the Triassic period, then moving to the Jurassic and finally the Cretaceous period, little ones can meet a host of dinosaurs both large and small. Lauren Crisp provides the brief rhyming text and questions that accompany Elliott’s enticing illustrations of the prehistoric animals set against different colour backgrounds.
There are lots of new names to learn (pronunciation provided) and the occasional surprise such as the erupting volcano, the lava of which is only revealed when you lift the flap.

Also illustrated by Thomas Elliott is

How Many Beads?
written by Nicola Edwards

Here’s a book that offers both measuring and counting fun with the aid of the string of ten beads inserted in the back cover.
Collections of items at home, in the sea, in a garden, around town,

‘my things’ and ‘at night’ are each allocated a double spread that contains guiding questions and a wealth of labelled objects. So, little ones can try counting oysters, clownfish, rocks and starfish beneath the sea as well as finding out which of the underwater creatures is the longest. (Once they get used to using the beads for measuring, an adult might introduce the idea of estimating first.)

Plenty to engage little hands, eyes and minds here.

Everybody Belongs / Where’s Brian’s Bottom?

Everybody Belongs
Lorna Freytag
Studio Press

In her latest board book Lorna Freytag celebrates difference in some of its many forms.
Exploring body shape and size, genetic colouration of various features, language and more, she shows how what we are has been influenced by environmental factors.

Even within close family, we’re all different– unique – after all, and how dull things would be, were it not so.
Very young children often pay little heed to such things as skin colour when making friends, but sadly sometimes later on, the notion of racial difference in particular, especially if drawn attention to by adults, may affect the choices they make, so it’s great to have a book such as this to reinforce the idea that being different is a cause for celebration.

Where’s Brian’s Bottom?
Rob Jones
Pavilion

Brian is an exceedingly long sausage dog. Such is his extreme length that he can’t find his own bottom and so needs help to locate it. His place of residence has five rooms and starting in the hall, little ones can join him in his search. However, it’s not there as Pauline parrot informs us. Nor is it in the living room where Alan the hamster says he hasn’t a clue of its whereabouts. What about the kitchen wherein tortoise Dave chomps his way through some tasty leaves?

Or maybe the bathroom – it looks promising but it turns out to be another part of Brian’s anatomy that’s on the loo, so wherever is that missing rear end?

Toddlers will assuredly giggle their way though this zany concertina board book that unfolds to around 2 metres. There are two sides to the story though: one has the questions and answer text concerning the hunt for Brian’s derriere. However opening it the opposite way reveals that his home is almost overrun with small furry and feathered creatures frolicking and feasting,

of which the sleeping Brian is blissfully unaware.

Clever design and zany playful visual storytelling make for a hugely enjoyable experience for the very young.

Let’s Play, Cheetah / Time for Bed, Panda

Let’s Play, Cheetah
Time for Bed, Panda

Jo Lodge
Campbell Books

Let me introduce The Googlies, Jo Lodge’s new first words series featuring adorable animals going about their daily lives.
Just right for using with babies and toddlers, each one has five bright alluring scenes that feature an animal character in a simple story, and each character has movable googly eyes and a slider – great for developing fine motor skills.
In Let’s Play, Cheetah, little ones can learn the names of Cheetah’s toys, join in with his choo-choo-ing train,

get physical when he experiments with some musical instruments, creates a picture and finally issues an invitation to play peek-a-boo.

Through Time for Bed, Panda, vocabulary associated with a bedtime routine is introduced. While an adult reads aloud tinies can join in with splishing and splashing, sipping and slurping, scrub-a-dubbing, wow-wee-ing (great to see a bedtime story) with ted …

and zzz-snoring, as well as pointing to items both in the main picture on the verso and the small strips on the recto as Panda gets ready for some shut-eye. (courtesy of a slider).

I’d suggest adding this one to the bedtime routine of human babies.

With their repeat refrains, “Can you say it with me?’, both books are great fun to share either at home or one-to-one in a nursery setting. Look out too for other titles coming soon in the series.

Play and Learn with Board Books

The Touch Book
written by Nicola Edwards
Little Tiger

Here’s a book that invites young children to “Get Hands-on! and explore texture and who could resist those paint-covered fingers of the little girl on the opening page?

In all, ten different textures are presented: fluffy, crinkly, smooth, bumpy, sticky, spongy, furry, rough, scratchy and soft, and each double spread offers three possible synonyms for the one presented. For instance, crinkly alternatives are wrinkly, ridged and ragged.

However it’s not only the sense of touch that’s being developed: ‘run your finger along something crinkly, what kind of noise does it make?’ asks the narrator; while the ‘sticky’ spread talks of sticky things being either tasty or ‘icky’ which might lead into a tasting session. Your fingertips really do stick to the tiny hexagons beneath the dripping honey so ‘tacky’ might be a good alternative though you’d definitely need to taste some honey to decide if syrupy is appropriate.

I like that little ones are invited to describe the textured patch beneath the digger – would they use ‘scratchy’ or perhaps gritty, grainy or raspy?

Full of potential learning opportunities, this sturdy book can be used either in a family or in an early years setting, perhaps as part of a larger sensory theme.

Although not sensory, to add to the overall fun, I’d suggest following up a sharing of the next book with some hands-on experiences

What Are Unicorns Made Of?
illustrated by Louise Anglicas
Little Tiger

A rhyming text guides the adult reader aloud, presenting possible answers to the titular question while Louise Anglicas’s candy-coloured illustrations showing unicorns cavorting across the countryside, through Sweetville, over the rainbow, among the trees and dancing to music offer plenty to explore.

The first consideration of unicorn-ness concerns what’s within: could they be filled with jellybeans, or perhaps ‘yummy pink popcorn?
What about their manes: marshmallow or possibly strawberry ice-cream – maybe but then neither would last long with hungry toddlers in the vicinity! Imagine unicorn rainbow tails all a-sparkle in the sun or horns alive with beautifully patterned butterflies, glittery musical hooves: the only way to discover if any of these might be part and parcel of a unicorn is to close your eyes and wish to see one – ta-da …

Animal World: I Can learn My First Colours
Lauren Crisp, illustrated by Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books (Little Tiger)

Four-line verses and images of beady-eyed animals are used to help reinforce, or perhaps introduce, the basic colours to toddlers: thus ‘Crocodile is green / with his teeth sharp and bright. / Whenever he snaps, / he will give you a fright!’ whereas ‘Giraffe is yellow / as tall as can be. / She nibbles on leaves / from high in the tree!’ In addition to the main text, along the edge of each verso asks for instance, “Who else is GREEN?’ Who else is PINK?’

The vertical rod inserted into the cover has 5 flattish cylinders, on each side of which is a small picture of an animal, so that little fingers can spin them around to discover another creature with a colour that matches the one in the main illustration.

The final spread shows a dozen butterflies each corresponding to one of the colours already featured and invites little ones to respond to two questions: “What is your favourite colour? And “What colours can you see high up in the sky?’

There’s a wealth of potential fun learning between the covers of this one.

Love Makes a Family / I Want to Be … a Doctor

Little Tiger have published several board books to start the year: here are two examples:

Love Makes a Family
Sophie Beer

Diverse families demonstrate the meaning of love – family love – through a variety of day-to-day interactions. Starting with an early awakening by two exuberant little ones of their still rather sleepy parents, or it might be baking and sharing a very special birthday celebration cake. Sometimes, something as simple as knowing where that lost toy might be found is an act of love;

but it’s also enjoying playing in the rain, helping a toddler; showing your appreciation of your children’s performance put on specially for you; comforting, bath time fun;

sharing just one more book or that bedtime kiss.
All these things constitute part of something we all need – especially after the past year – and that is LOVE. Joyfully illustrated in bold bright scenes rich in pattern, Sophie Beer’s celebration of simple loving acts shows the very youngest children, what makes a family a family.

I Want to Be … a Doctor
illustrated by Richard Merritt

The small girl narrator peeping through the die hole in the cover explains why her ambition is to become a doctor. Most importantly she wants to help ‘poorly people get better’, but she’s also excited (as we’re shown in Richard Merritt’s illustrations that show our narrator playing with her teddy), about the prospect of wearing a white lab coat and having lots of doctorly accoutrements.

Then there’s the possibility of an ambulance ride, siren blaring and lights flashing while at other times there’ll be patients visiting her surgery (‘office’) when she might need to use some of the instruments from her doctor’s bag.

She shows readers both the stethoscope and an x-ray machine at work, as well as issuing a prescription based on her observations: all in all, lots of reasons that inspire a young child to aspire to become a member of the medical profession but it’s not everybody’s ambition of course, and the final page with its mirror asks about that very thing.

ABCs of Kindness

ABCs of Kindness
Samantha Berger and Ekaterina Trukhan
Highlights

I suspect most people would agree that since the start of this current pandemic they’ve discovered that it’s not material things that are important, but acts of kindness. Now here’s a large format alphabet board book that presents different ways of being kind be that to one another, to animals, to the planet or to ourselves.

Thus we have, ‘F is for Finding a friend who sits alone and sitting with them’; ‘’D is for Donating your blanket to a dog who doesn’t have one’;

G is for Gratitude – remembering things to be grateful for every night’; ‘P is for Protecting and Preserving our planet’

and ‘Q is for Quiet moments to listen to the world around you.’

Each example is illustrated in bold bright, geometric style and Ekaterina Trukhan’s overall visual presentation is diverse and inclusive. If you work with young children and want to encourage them to be considerate and respectful towards others and the planet then this is a good starting point; it’s sufficiently large to be shared with a group rather than just an individual.

Board Books for Christmas

Who Said Merry Christmas?
Becky Davies and Yi-Hsuan Wu
Little Tiger

Ho Ho Ho! comes the mystery voice, but who spoke the words? Was it Penguin? Feel the tactile soft tummy (it gives a clue), lift the flap and discover the owner of the jolly utterance. Do similar for the “Tweet!”, the “Roar!”, the “Merry Christmas!” greeting and lastly, respond to the final question above the mirror.
Hide-and-seek fun for the very youngest, engagingly illustrated in Yi-Hsuan Wu’s jolly scenes of Penguin, Mrs Claus, Snowman and Reindeer and the characters hidden beneath the four flaps.

Can’t See Santa!
Mandy Archer and Chris Jevons
Little Tiger

It’s Christmas Eve and all is ready but where oh where is Santa? That’s what the little mouse asks as he searches everywhere both inside the house, and outdoors in the snowy garden where at least there should be signs of Santa’s sled. Then back indoors again the tiny creature’s so downhearted he can’t even face a nibble of his carrot let alone the seasonal fare spread out on the table. Worse still is the complete lack of a single present beside the sparkling tree. Has Santa forgotten our little rodent friend? So miserable does he feel that Mouse heads off to his attic bed. But there’s something he doesn’t know and that’s not revealed until the final flap in Chris Jevons’ festively detailed sequence of story-telling pictures is opened. Mandy Archer’s rhyming couplets tell the tale from Mouse’s viewpoint on the bottom stair, in snow-filled garden, on the table, beneath the Christmas tree or in his bed. With several flaps to explore and assist mouse in his search on every spread, little ones will delight in the hunt and the secret that they might or might not, already know about.

Peas on Earth
Jonny Marx and Lindsey Sagar
Little Tiger

The five little peas in their pod can barely contain themselves so full of festive cheer are they feeling. Indeed, one by one the small spherical objects pop out io their case so great is their excitement once that Christmas wreath is attached to the door. So, we have four left to help decorate the tree one of which needs to get the star bringing their number to three enjoying the view outdoors. Santa’s grotto isn’t too far so off goes another and so on till atop the tree sits just one. It’s she that will delight in the appearance of a pair of booted feet before a special delivery is made and there’s something for them all. HURRAH!
A fun-filled yuletide countdown to share with the very young who will love poking their fingers into the die-cut circles, as well as following the frolics of the peas described in Jonny Marx’s rhyming text and shown in Lindsey Sagar’s jolly seasonal scenes.

My Magical Snowman
illustrated by Yujin Shin
Campbell Books

Oh dear! Santa’s sleigh – so the elves say – is in need of a quick repair before he can start on his delivery round. So who can they call upon to help? Snowman seems willing once his door has been opened (move the slider) and off they all go whooshing over the frozen lake and whizzing down the slippery slope (2 more sliders). Then with a touch of the snowman’s magic, it’s up and away for Santa “Ho, Ho Ho-ing” on his sleigh as he bids all his helpers a “Merry Christmas”.
Simple, satisfying and lots of fun – both in the manipulating of the sliders and the rhyming text that accompanies the chilly wintry scenes of elvish frolics and willing assistance.

Dear Santa
Rod Campbell
Macmillan Children’s Books

This is a board book version of Rod Campbell’s Christmas classic which, almost unbelievably, is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Yes, it’s that enormously engaging sharing of a letter to Santa requesting something special for Christmas and what the old man does and thinks as he wraps up all manner of not quite right gifts before, on Christmas Eve, he decides upon the one that’s just right and much appreciated by the letter writer.
A Christmas must if you have a toddler.

Monster Clothes & Monster Food/ Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Monster Clothes
Monster Food

Daisy Hirst
Walker Books

Here are two monstrously enjoyable board books from Daisy Hirst. The first introduces a host of delightful little monster characters to show little humans what they like to wear. There’s hat wearing Harriet, socks sporting Simon, pants parading Pauline, and Terrence with a tomato titfa’. That’s three out of four with their chosen garments upon their heads. 
Of the next four, three are relatively conformist in how they wear their gear but divergent Cassie chooses something completely unexpected … 

Then come Vera and Duncan, each conventionally clad, followed by leafy Lester, Beatrice with booted hands and feet, which leaves just Evie and she’s been unable to make up her mind and appears shall we say, somewhat over-dressed.
Love the alliterative descriptions of the endearing fashionistas as well as Daisy’s eye-catching, funky illustrations.

Monster Food sees nameless monsters devouring fruits, while others chew chairs – yes really – and some nosh on noodles or stew leaving one to chomp upon a shoe. 

Cereal is preferred by one, another breakfasts (unhealthily) on cake but I can’t see the allure of that rake, nor the mechanical items selected by some. Instead, they should take the advice of the child and her monster pal on the final spread and stick to putting food in their bellies. Nom, nomm exceedingly tasty fun – well mostly!

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang
Nosy Crow

Yu-hsuan Huang populates her delightful version of the ever popular nursery song with small anthropomorphised animal, in particular a bear and a rabbit. These two cute-looking characters meet up and cycle off into the night. After parking their bikes, they walk until they find a suitable spot to make a camp and enjoy a sing-song under the stars,

before snuggling up for the night.

In addition to enjoying joining in the song, (there’s a QR code to scan for an audio version) little humans can have fun manipulating the sliders, talking about the details in the illustrations and following the story as it unfolds in Yu-hsuan’s beautifully coloured spreads.

Who’s Driving? / What a Ship Sees

Who’s Driving?
Leo Timmers
Gecko Press

Toddlers and pre-schoolers will absolutely love playing this matching /prediction game wherein Leo Timmers invites them to guess ‘Who’s driving …’ – in the first instance the fire-engine – from the animal character line up on the verso each clutching a key and hastening towards the vehicle shown on the recto. Turn the page ‘wheeooh wheeooh wheeooh’ and the answer is revealed along with the vehicle’s destination. (Sharp-eyed youngsters will likely have spotted some of the clues as to the driver on the first spread.)

A different four animals appear as possible drivers for each of the new vehicles depicted – the limousine, the racing car,

the tractor, the convertible, the jeep and finally, the aeroplane.

There’s an element of the Hare and the Tortoise fable here too, though probably only appreciated by adults. Little ones will love the explosive onomatopoeic, sound-making opportunities that seemingly make the vehicles whizz right off the pages; and the unlikely drivers depicted in Timmers’ acrylic illustrations. Both visual skills and observation skills will certainly have been stretched too after sharing this.

What a wealth of learning potential there is in this fun little book: it’s a must for nursery/preschool settings and enormous fun for home too.

What A Ship Sees
Laura Knowles and Vivian Mineker
Welbeck Publishing

In this cleverly designed concertina book, we follow the journey of a little red ship as it sets out from the jetty on a voyage across the sea. This is no smooth journey though as a storm blows up shortly after the boat has passed a desert island, but all is well and the sailors pause for a while to help remove some of the floating plastic litter before continuing to move north to chilly waters and finally reaching home shores once more.

During the unfolding trip guided by Laura Knowles chatty style narrative, youngsters can enjoy spotting in Vivian Mineker’s illustrations, various sea craft – fishing vessels, a tanker and an enormous cruise ship, as well as dancing dolphins, a shoal of flying fish,

and the changing weather.

There’s a wealth of talk and story-telling potential in the 2.5 metre long unfolding drama, on the reverse side of which is a cutaway of the little red boat, as well as individual elements of the journey along with further information about each one be that ocean fauna, nautical communication,

safety, or ships and boats.

Supertato Super Squad

Supertato Super Squad
Sue Hendra and Paul Linnett
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Everybody is in need of kindness right now as we enter a second UK lockdown and our favourite spud and his super veggie squad are here to show the way.

When Supertato tells his friends that he needs their help to teach Evil Pea a lesson, needless to say they are ready to spring into action right away.
Pineapple provides the box their leader requests, Carrot supplies the string – rather an excess of the stuff …

and Broccoli and Cucumber – chefs extraordinaire – bake a batch of delicious cupcakes adorned with sprinkles.

With box duly packed, the preparations are complete and it’s time to sneak up on their arch enemy, the little green spherical EP. By now Supertato’s pals are a tad confused but he knows exactly what he’s doing and Evil Pea is certainly in for a big surprise …

Sue and Paul have created a splendid, large format cutaway board book treat for little humans that introduces some of the key Supertato characters and in so doing offer an important lesson about helping one another, kindness and collaboration.

Who will you and your little ones surprise over the coming weeks?

Celebrating Nosy Crow Board Books

Peekaboo Bear
Peekaboo Apple

Camilla Reid and Ingela P Arrhenius

Toddlers and babies absolutely love to play peekaboo, especially when there’s a mirror involved, so these two books will be winners on both counts. Add to that Camilla Reid’s playful rhyming couplets that introduce equally playful, adorably illustrated animals, some of which are revealed by manipulating the sliders in Ingela P Arrhenius’s brightly coloured, patterned spreads, (as well as the occasional human in the Apple book)

and you have two sure fire winners for several more reasons. Exuberant language, alluring art, manipulative skill development and most importantly, sheer fun: what more can one ask of books for babies?

Listen to the Carnival of the Animals
Marion Billet

With its six sound buttons embedded in the spreads, tinies can listen to the Royal March of the Lion, The Elephant (and maybe stomp along too), bounce in time to Kangaroos, imagine floating neath the Aquarium water, enjoy the flutes emulating bird song in an Aviary and finally, glide gracefully across the lake like The Swan. Each animal (often along with minibeast bit-part players) is allocated a double spread brightly and engagingly illustrated and introduced with a sentence to maximise engagement such as “Does the bouncy piano sound like a kangaroo?’

or ‘Isn’t it magical under the water?’and there’s a final page asking “Which animal was YOUR favourite?’
A lovely introduction to Saint-Saēns’ classic The Carnival of the Animals for the very youngest listeners (with music played by two famous orchestras)

Who’s Hiding in the Snow?
Katharine McEwen

In five beautifully illustrated double spreads we visit a variety of chilly locations wherein to discover the answer to the titular question. First, we’re in the Asian tundra in the early morning to hunt for the climbing and flying animals that have hidden themselves under the snow (lift the flaps to find the amur leopard, the ermine, a Siberian squirrel, a Siberian tiger and a snowy owl.) Next stop is the icy Antarctic to search for swimming creatures, a bird that hops on one foot and a chinstrap penguin creche. Afternoon in the Eurasian mountains shows some animals while others –including an alpine marmot and sleeping wild boars are hiding.

A snowy Arctic evening depicts animals on the move and others such as the walrus, resting . It’s night-time when the final destination is reached and the northern lights shine to reveal the ears of grey wolves (the rest being hidden) as well as a moose lurking behind snow-capped rocks and some very sleepy dall sheep. Brr!

A considerable amount of information about the various animals is given on the inner side of the flaps under which the animals are hidden offering interactive learning of a fun kind for young children.

Love, Hide-and-Seek and Night-time Board Book Style

Little Love Bug
Illustrated by Emily Dove
Chronicle Books

Author/illustrator and nature enthusiast, Emily Dove, uses a popular minbeast as the featured creature in her latest in the finger puppet series to share with babies. We see a parent and little bug spending a busy day together snuggling, meeting friends, taking a slow wander, enjoying a dance and having a goodnight hug. No matter the time of day you can find an opportunity to show your love.

Bright, cute and sturdily built for lots of reading together times.

Where’s Mrs T-Rex?
illustrated by Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

There’s a decidedly dinosaurish theme to the latest in Nosy Crow’s ever-popular felt flaps series with that final mirror that tinies love.. In this one you can introduce babies and toddlers to the four dinosaurs that are playing hide-and-seek from various minibeasts, a pterodactyl and a turtle.

It’s never too early to expose them to such names as Stegosaurus (Mr) Diplodocus (Mrs), Triceratops (Mr) and T-Tex, herein set against vibrant, patterned backgrounds. What fun!

Shhh … Good Night
Nicky Benson and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

With Nicky Benson’s gentle, rhyming text and Thomas Elliott’s gorgeously hued illustrations, this lovely book with its die-cut pages, showing a mother bird and her baby, a baby squirrel with its parent, a big and small firefly and deer, little and large, settling down for a night’s sleep, this book is a lovely way to bid little humans goodnight; they’ll surely sleep well after this dreamy meditative experience.

And if you missed the paperback version of Britta Teckentrup’s beautifully illustrated Moon, reviewed already on this blog, Little Tiger have now published a die-cut paged board book edition showing animals around the world at night-time.

Oceans and Feelings Explored in Board Books

Oceans
Lorna Freytag
Studio Press

This is one of the Ecobaby board book series that aims to introduce the very youngest children to important environmental issues, and assuredly it’s never too soon to start thinking about the importance of caring for the planet.

In Oceans, little ones are told about the threat ocean flora and fauna are under from plastic pollution; how over-fishing is depleting the fish population …

and ships are pouring polluting oil into the sea.

Finally come some suggestions to help make a difference.
Author/illustrator Lorna Freytag ‘s succinct text and simple, almost diagrammatic, illustrations put across the crucial message adeptly and one hopes this and its companion book Recycling will set under 4s off on the path to being ecowarriors.

When I am Happy
Sometimes I am Angry

illustrated by Marie Paruit
Campbell Books

Written in collaboration with early years consultant Dr Janet Rose, are these two board books in the Little BIG Feelings series.

The Happy book introduces Bella, Jamie, Zach and members of their families, and shows examples of how kindness and inclusion lead to happiness. So too do thinking about life’s ‘good things’,

doing things you enjoy and staying healthy. It’s no surprise to see that happiness is infectious. I had no trouble moving the slider – just one of the book’s interactive features – all the way to 10 as I thought of things that make me happy.

It’s all too easy to have angry feelings bubbling up in these difficult times (I’ll say no more) but little ones such as Oliver, Amy and their friends all of whom are at a party, find things that make them feel angry too.

Oliver finds his face getting red, his heart beating super fast and his fists curling when somebody knocks his block tower down. Others are not happy about the food, the drink incident, and Evie’s anger is not getting the hat she wants.

Fortunately each of the party grumpies can demonstrate a way to diffuse those feelings of anger and there’s a final slider to assist your little one(s) with calming down.

Both books have a final spread for parents/carers containing advice and strategies to try.

As the logo on each front cover informs, these are just right for ‘Sharing and Talking’.

For nursery collections and family shelves where there are very young children.

A Trio of Little Tiger Board Books

Kindness makes us Strong
Sophie Beer

What is kindness? Sophie Beer provides some examples in this little book beginning each double-page spread with “Kindness is …’ following it with illustrations of children who show care and consideration towards their peers, grown-ups and animals.

It might be something as simple as saying hello, or cheering on participants in a race, giving a warm hug or taking turns.

The bright, enormously attractive illustrations show how much difference acts of kindness make in creating  a happier world.

With its brief, simple repetitive but empowering text, this little book can be shared with the very youngest but equally slightly older children might enjoy reading it for themselves.

A lovely introduction to kindness.

Owl Always Love You
Patricia Hegarty and Bryony Clarkson
Caterpillar Books (Little Tiger)

It’s bedtime for the little forest animals: time that baby rabbit snuggled down in the burrow, time for tiny dormouse and hedgehog to curl up; and up in the tree, for baby squirrel to close its eyes.

The tree is also the place where new chicks in their nest await their mother songbird’s return before they too can sleep.

With die-cut holes to peep through, raised images to feel and adorable little creatures to enjoy in Bryony Clarkson’s nocturnal scenes, sleepy little humans can listen to Patricia Hegarty’s gentle reassuring rhyming narrative before they too succumb to the call of sleep.

Also with a night-time theme is

What Can You See? At Night
illustrated by Maria Perera

With the emphasis on facts, little ones are introduced to a host of nocturnal feeders such as squirrels, owls and foxes in the town.

Moving on to a more rural setting we meet creatures around a pond including singing frogs, bats on the hunt for insects, while in the field rabbits, mice and foxes forage and fireflies flit above them.

It’s not only wild creatures that are out and about at night: postal workers, delivery drivers and sometimes farmers, are at work when most of us are fast asleep.

There’s plenty to interest toddlers on every spread including some humorous items and die cuts.

It’s Board Book Time!

Disney Block
Peskimo
Abrams Appleseed

Before they’re ready to watch Disney’s classic animated films, thanks to this chunky board book, babies and toddlers can meet the much-loved characters from way back in the 1930s and 40s with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi …

right through to Frozen 2 (2019), much adored by pretty much every little girl I know and countless others I don’t.

As always husband and wife illustration/design team, Peskimo, have done an absolutely brilliant job with this latest in the Block Book series that includes their characteristic die-cut pages and in this volume, a memorable quote from each film featured helps to lift the characters from the pages.

Every spread has a magic of its own be it through the waving of her wand by Cinderella’s fairy godmother, (1950); the superb togetherness shown in this Jungle Book scene …

or the loving encounter depicted between John and Pocahontas (1995).

As you share and re-share this you are certain to relive many of these unforgettable moments, making this an absolutely wonderful book for tinies and adults too.

Over the years there have been plenty of Disney board books but none of them can touch this beauty.

Clap Hands for Key Workers
illustrated by Kat Uno
Pat-A-Cake

This touch-and-feel board book gives the very youngest toddlers an opportunity to say thank you to key workers.

There’s doctor Harriet applying a bandage to a small boy’s leg; shop worker Jay with those shiny apples strategically placed near the till to tempt shoppers; Ruby the post worker

and bus driver Logan, stopping to pick up passengers on his route.

Each of those has their two pages with a touchy-feely feature, but the final double spread shows seven other key workers, all of whom deserve our thanks, especially during the continuing pandemic.

Share with little ones and celebrate these workers together as you enjoy Kat Uno’s bright jolly scenes and give each worker a round of applause.

Touch Think Learn: Build!
Xavier Deneux
Chronicle Handprint Books

A host of learning possibilities are contained within the covers of this largish, sturdily built board book for toddlers, who do so much discovering about their world by looking and touching.

There are bright colours and a variety of shapes and patterns to explore as they follow the house-building process from the time two building site workers don their hard hats right through to the completion of their family home.

There’s a wealth of new vocabulary as various vehicles are introduced along with the work they carry out – a bulldozer for digging/shovelling; a flatbed truck for carrying supplies;

a crane for lifting such things as joists and roof parts. What fantastic conversation sparking opportunities here.

And by manipulating the removable parts and fitting them into die-cut openings, the small user becomes a participant in the entire narrative ensuring maximum engagement throughout.

Clearly, so much careful thought by Xavier Deneux has gone into the creation of this one.

Playing and Learning with Board Books

Introducing some new interactive board books from Little Tiger

Bear & Mouse Start the Day
Bear & Mouse Time for Bed

Nicola Edwards and Maria Neradova

Best friends Bear and Mouse (narrator) live together. As they Start the Day, prompted by Nicola’s simple questioning text, toddlers can help the two get up, eat breakfast, prepare to go out, take a bus ride and have fun playing in the park.

When it’s Time for Bed, just like little humans, they enjoy a splashy bath, brush their teeth, don their night attire and snuggle up together for a pre bedtime story.

Maria Neradova’s bright cheery illustrations have just the right amount of detail to keep interest levels high and interactive features in the form of flaps and sliders add to the fun.

abc nature
Nicola Edwards and Thomas Elliott

Even before little ones are at the alphabet learning or letter forming stage you can share this book with its alphabetical arrangement of natural things from acorns to zebras for naming and talking about each item using the photographic style illustrations.

They certainly won’t give any idea of relative size though: ‘earth’ is shown on the same page as ‘flower’ and they’re depicted as being roughly the same size. Nonetheless from the outset even the very youngest can be developing their visual skills and an interest in the natural world; the ‘touch and trace’ element of the book can come later.

Hide and Seek in the Forest
Rachel Elliot and Gareth Lucas

As day gives way to night, it’s bedtime for the baby animals in the forest but it seems as though they’re not quite ready to sleep. Instead Fawn, Baby Squirrel, Little Frog, Baby Rabbit and a baby owl decide to play hide-and-seek; and it’s down to little humans to help their respective parents find them hidden behind the shaped felt flaps on the five spreads.

Wait till your little humans are safely tucked up in bed before you share this jolly little book that’s aglow with Gareth Lucas’ illustrations, just in case they decide to emulate the baby animals.

My Book of Feelings
Nicola Edwards and Thomas Elliott

A range of topics, photographically illustrated, including the weather, foods, free time activities, animals, new experiences and different places are used to help young children explore their feelings.

To the same end there’s a novel feature -a double-sided emoji spinner – as well as a final mirror; however the book opens with a paragraph that includes this reminder, ‘Remember, feelings don’t always show on the outside.’ That’s something we adults probably understand but not so young children, as will the fact that our feelings are not fixed but subject to change.

In addition to being helpful for using with pre-schoolers, it might also work with slightly older children on the autism spectrum.

Conjuror Cow / Where’s William’s Washing?

Conjuror Cow
Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt
Macmillan Children’s Books
Although Julia Donaldson’s rhyming in this lift-the-flap- book is impeccable, Conjuror Cow’s magic skills are decidedly lacking as she makes several abortive attempts to produce a white rabbit from her top hat, a cake, a trap door in the floor and a snazzy table cloth,

before Nick Sharratt’s vastly amused mouse and pig onlookers give her the instructions that finally lead to a surprise revelation.

As you would expect Nick’s illustrations are alive with his trademark zany humour. Who can fail to fall for the charms not only of Conjuror Cow but also the team of bit part players?

Fantastic fun for toddlers and readers aloud too.

Where’s William’s Washing?
Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster

What a delight to be back in Treacle Street on a breezy summery afternoon. William Tripehound is taking advantage of the breeze to dry his washing but all of a sudden, WHOOSH! The wind whisks the contents of William’s washing basket and the clothes he’s just pegged onto the line up and away.

The search is on aided and abetted by young listeners who will love to help lift the flaps and discover the whereabouts of William’s red striped apron, his checked trousers, his socks,

and his underpants.

Happily, thanks to audience assistance, by the end of the story William has all his washing back save one item, the new use for which is just too ideal to reclaim, and the pooch is more than happy to serve yummy pie and gravy teas as thank yous to all the Treacle Street helpers.

With her playful text and delectable, slightly retro, detailed illustrations the third visit to Kate Hindley’s Treacle Street is every bit as enjoyable as the previous ones.

Board Book Fun Galore

Let’s Go! On a Tractor
Let’s Go! On a Train

Rosalyn Albert and Natalia Moore
Catch A Star

These two new titles in the Let’s Go! transport series offer further journeys of discovery for toddlers.

Told in Rosalyn Albert’s catchy rhyming story-telling narratives and Natalia Moore’s bright, lively scenes they’re just right to engage the very young.

The tractor driver in the first title takes readers around the farm introducing the farmer, crops, animals and their sounds, and some very squelchy mud – it’s all in a days work.

The train of the second book is an old-fashioned steam train – a very shiny one. We meet the driver and a ticket collector as the train wheels click clack through the countryside with the two young narrators relating the events of their long journey that lasts from morning to evening.

These sturdy books are just the right size for small hands to hold while they retell themselves the stories once an adult has shared them.

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! At the Fair
Gregory Goose is on the Loose! Up the Mountain

Hilary Robinson and Mandy Stanley
Catch A Star

Gregory Goose is on the loose again at new locations in two new catchy rhyming hide and seek adventures.

Gregory is an ace when it comes to hiding himself away in plain sight – even this adult reviewer had to search really hard a couple of times to locate him, so these books will certainly hone the observation skills of your little ones.

Whether you’re feeling in summery style or a snowy wintry mood, Mandy Stanley’s bright, captivating illustrations provide plenty to talk about on every spread, and what delight to discover the whereabouts of Gregory at every turn of the page.

Where’s Mrs Queen?
Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

This addition to the deservedly popular. sturdy, felt flap series follows the same 5 spreads format with the final flap covering a surprise mirror – something that fascinates even babies just a few months old.

Here the location is London, and in the search for ‘Mrs Queen’ little ones will find a policeman, (I’d have preferred officer here), the driver of a double-decker bus, a soldier wearing a busby, said Queen in a carriage before they all assemble to ask ‘And where are you?’

With those attention grabbing, bright, retro style illustrations of Ingela Arrhenius, this board book is great of fun for the very youngest.

Board Book Bundle

Who Says Peek A Boo?
Who Says Hippity Hop?

Highlights for Children

It’s absolutely NEVER too early to introduce children to books.
In this pair of photographically illustrated books, babies can engage in a game of peek-a-boo with some favourite animals; or join some lively animals chasing after colourful eggs as they decide whether to hippity hop, flippity flop, drippity drop, slippity slop, clippity clop with kitten, duckling, piglet, pony and bunny.
Each book has a mirror on the final page, which completes the question and response sequence.

More questions in:

Do Cats Moo?
Salina Yoon
Sterling

Salina Yoon’s latest in her lift-the-flap rhyming series for tinies that features animals and the sounds they make. This one showcases the titular cats along with pups, hamsters, birds, goldfish, bunnies, hedgehogs and turtles, all of which assemble for a gloriously cacophonous final double gatefold farewell wherein toddlers too can participate with their squeaks, sniffs, snuffles, splish-splashes, glubs, chirps, barks and meows.

Go, Boats, Go!
Addie Boswell and Alexander Mostov
Little Bigfoot

Boswell and Mostov add a new title to their In-Motion board book series with their rhyming introduction to water craft of all shapes and sizes. There are boats, old and new, pedal boats, boats to row and boats to sail, boats for work and boats for leisure, some powered by humans, others by machines; there’s even a boat that appears to fly, in this playful assembly of vessels each one colourfully illustrated in the ten double spreads.

That’s Silly! Rhyme Time
illustrated by Mar Ferrero
Highlights for Children

In just half a dozen double-page spreads, each with a gatefold on either side, youngsters can have fun discovering over 90 daft rhymes in such silly places as a Bog Fog and a Snowflake Lake.
The locations visited vary from a park to the moon, and include a busy town (good to see a bookshop there) and the seaside.

There are hours of potential fun, rhyme style herein; and with rhyme being one of the 3Rs of reading, this is definitely worth sharing with little ones who will also develop their observation skills in response to ‘What else do you see? What else is silly?’ on every page.

Little Bear’s Picnic / Peek-through: Around Town & Peek-through: Jobs We Do

Here are some new Little Tiger board book treats for toddlers:

Little Bear’s Picnic
Sebastien Braun and Kathryn Smith
Little Tiger

Picnics are the best fun if you collect some of the components on the way and that’s what happens in the second in the Cook With Me! lift-the-flap series.

Little Bear’s pretend play gives Big Bear an idea. The adult bear puts some items into a basket and off they go through the vegetable garden, pausing there to harvest some delicious veggies for the picnic.

By the stream Little Bear asks about another green plant and learns that it’s watercress – another tasty item to add to the basket.

The buzzy bees in the woods lead them to discover a honeycomb in the trees and then it’s time to settle down to a lunch.

Suddenly down comes a shower of rain so they gather up their things and dash for cover. Soon, sheltered beneath the canopy of a large tree the two bears watch as a rainbow appears in the sky and they tuck into their yummy ‘Rainbow Wraps Picnic’.

There’s a recipe for these beneath the final flap inside the back cover of the book.

Seb. Braun’s attention to detail is as always superb, so there’s plenty to get involved with including flaps to explore and a question to respond to on every spread such as ‘Can you help Little Bear pick some watercress?’

Toddlers will enjoy the playful picnic game and have fun guessing what the book contains as well as trying out its recipe.

Peek-through: Around Town
Peek-through: Jobs We Do

Jonny Marx and Zoe Waring
Little Tiger

Dusty the dog is a bit of a snooper so tired of being cooped up inside (familiar?) off he goes to explore what the town has to offer. Starting with the café, he visits the bookshop – hurray!,

the clothing store, the music shop, the sweet shop, the greengrocer and at the end of the day, meets up with a friend in the restaurant.

Roxy Rat also likes exploring and meeting others. Her perambulations take her to the police station, the fire station, a restaurant kitchen, a clothes shop, a garage, the bank and the hospital. That’s her final destination for we discover on the final spread that Roxy is a nurse whose turn it is on the night shift.

Both titles have a question on each recto above which is a peek-through flap to open and find the answer.

There’s a wealth of vocabulary development potential if toddlers share these chunky board books with an adult or older sibling.

Creature Features Oceans / I thought I saw a … crocodile!

Creature Features Oceans
Natasha Durley
Big Picture Press

For the third in her Creature Features series Natasha Durley plunges beneath the ocean to present some spectacular sea creatures. Organised onto eleven double spreads, all have an attention-capturing, alliterative heading.

Each spread has an explanatory introductory paragraph relating to the specific characteristic – for instance in Gorgeous glow, ‘In the darkest depths of the ocean, there is still light to be found. Some animals, like the toothy anglerfish, create their own light to lure in prey. Others, like the hawksbill turtle, soak up light and reflect it back as a different colour.’ There’s a also a question that leads neatly into the next double spread; here it’s ‘Which creature glows and has a shell?’

Among the gorgeously glowing, youngsters will love encountering the likes of the Atlantic footballfish and the Cookiecutter shark, along with the only one familiar to me among the array, krill.

Animals with Super shells – molluscs and crustacea – show themselves on the next spread, the only one where some of those included can be seen on the beach.

Other than at Bold black & white, no matter where you choose to open the book, super-bright colours as well as incredible shapes meet the eye.

So, be prepared for youngsters to be wowed and linger long to observe the Spectacularly spotty, those with Funny faces, perhaps made so by bulging foreheads or long snouts, an array of Amazing arms, a host of animals sporting Stylish stripes, Fantastic fins or Terrific Teeth. Did you know that those of a Great white shark are about 7cm long? Yikes!  Definitely a lot more alarming than the incredible four-eyed fish on the final spread that are able to see both above and below the surface of the water at the same time.

This sturdy, large-format board book isn’t just for the very young: it would be great for small groups of slightly older children to sit and discuss the weird and wonderful.

Imagine what a smashing jumping off point for some oceanic art it would make too.

I thought I saw a … crocodile!
Lydia Nichols
Templar Publishing

A playful crocodile inhabits this fun little book. Supposedly it’s part of a team of builders but the creature has abandoned the drill and gone AWOL.

Using the slider mechanism on every spread, little ones can engage in a game of hunt-the croc. as they listen to the repeat “I thought I saw a crocodile … Is it …?’ spoken by other members of the crew at the building site.

But does that mischievous creature ever get back to work? What do you think?

Clever, stylishly portrayed interactive fun for tinies who will likely learn some new location specific words and hone their fine motor skills too.

Fun, Facts and More in Boardbook Format

Here’s a handful of board books to entertain your little ones courtesy of the Little Tiger Group:

ABC of Kindness
Patricia Hegarty and Summer Macon
Caterpillar Books

Rhyming couplets by Patricia Hegarty together with Summer Macon’s small scenes of super cute animal characters showing the way make for a lovely reminder of the important things in life.

For instance, there’s ‘Cc is being caring in everything you do. / Dd is for dear ones – who mean the world to you!’

The pastel backgrounds to the kindnesses illustrated complement the softly spoken text in a lovely introduction to the behaviours we’d all like to see in little humans. Perfect for sharing and talking about.

Cook with Me: Bunny Makes Breakfast
Kathryn Smith and Seb Braun
Little Tiger

Big Mummy invites her Little Bunny to share in the creation of a ‘yummy breakfast’ but what are they going to cook? They already have butter, flour and maple syrup, but that’s not all they need.

Out they go and pick juicy berries, collect eggs from the hens, and creamy milk from the cow.

Back in the kitchen comes the fun, messy part of mixing all the ingredients and by the time the delicious aroma comes wafting from the cooker, Little Bunny has worked out what their surprise meal will be. Hmmm!

Kathryn Smith’s is a story with a bonus – the final spread includes a recipe book – Bunny Oliver’s Breakfast for Bunnies.

With flaps to explore on every one of Seb Braun’s engaging spreads, this is a tasty little book for sharing with small humans – preferably not at breakfast time though in case of sticky fingers.

Curious Kids: Sea and Shore
Jonny Marx and Christine Engel
Caterpillar Books

From early morning to sunset, there’s a wealth of wildlife to enjoy at the seaside.

This board book format non-fiction title presents in eight spreads, snippets of factual information about some of the marine creatures to be found in and around our seas from seagulls

to seahorses, octopuses to turtles.

There’s a pop-up feature on each bold, bright spread and observant eyes can also look for marine flora both in the sea and on the shore.

With the seaside likely to be off-limits for some time, maybe one way to remind little ones of its delights is with Christiane Engle’s sturdy book.

Also out in boardbook format now is:

Bee: Nature’s Tiny Miracle
Patricia Hegarty and Britta Teckentrup
Little Tiger

I reviewed the original hard cover edition of this smashing book that absolutely buzzes with bee-uty almost 4 years ago and it’s great to see it in a sturdy format for tinies: Britta’s illustrations are stunning.

Two Terrific Board Books

Here are two very different but both smashing board books to explore with little ones.

The Wolf and the Fly
Antje Damm
Gecko Press

What a totally delicious book this is, and it’s one where readers, young and not so young, can polish up their observation and memory skills as they follow the tale of a hungry wolf.

On the first spread we see the lupine contemplating his shelves of objects – a duck, an apple, a fish, a cactus, a car, a fly, a bird and a cat and the words, “The wolf is feeling a bit peckish today. So he eats the …’

Each subsequent spread shows a gap on one of the shelves indicating where the missing item was and readers have to remember what that item is.

He keeps on chomping until he’s fit to burst and has to head to the bathroom.

On his return he’s ready for afters and consumes another item. Once inside said item tickles his tum; you can guess what happens next.

Antje’s illustrations are superbly expressive and the entire experience of sharing this story with a little one is absolutely yummy.

Tim Hopgood’s ABC
Oxford University Press

Author/illustrator Tim Hopgood has created a gorgeous alphabetical introduction to the natural world for the very youngest.

No matter where the book is opened, little ones will be treated to a beautiful image that celebrates an aspect of wildlife and/or the elements, that can be found somewhere on the planet.

We have Aa for acorn, a butterfly represents Bb;

a scene of a child relaxing atop a hill gazing skywards while a bird perches on her foot, butterflies flit and a bee drifts by, that’s Cc for cloud, and opposite is a scorching desert – Dd.

So it goes on – it’s hard to pick favourites though I especially like the owl –

through to Yy . Hereon it’s not nature but the toddler’s own image that will be reflected back by the mirror forming the centre of, I think, a sun.

Alphabetical it may be, but in the first instance, I’d just enjoy talking with a tiny about the illustrations for their own sake, and perhaps focus more on the alphabetical element later on.

Make Time for a Board Book

Where’s My Llama?
Kate McLelland and Becky Davies
Little Tiger

Capitalising on the current vogue for all things llama, Becky Davies has written a board book. Herein a llama has gone missing and it’s up to little ones to follow the trail of brightly coloured footprints to track her down.

Along the way tiny detectives will encounter a long-necked Giraffe, a cute tailed fox

and a long-eared rabbit, all of which have similar characteristics to the llama.
But where is the errant ungulate? Rest assured her fluffy tail will finally give the game away.

With its final flap reveal, Kate McLelland’s alluring scenes – each with a touch and feel animal body part – on softly patterned pastel backgrounds, simple descriptive text with the repeat refrain, ‘Where’s my llama?’ to chant, there’s plenty to keep the attention of tinies throughout this touch and feel, search and find book.

Maisy’s Science
Lucy Cousins
Walker Books

Toddlers’ favourite mouse Maisy is in investigative mode in this STEAM First Words tabbed book.

Out and about, she encounters some very windy weather that is perfect for kite flying; seasonal snow as she feeds the birds; enjoys a relaxing break from vegetable gathering to enjoy watching the minibeasts close by. Then it’s time for a bit of seed watering – perhaps she’s planted sunflower seeds – followed by observing some seasonal changes.

The arrival of her friends gives an opportunity to look at various parts of their bodies and hers and once she’s alone again, she and cuddly Panda can investigate a variety of textures; make some rather noisy musical sound with her percussion; don her painting apron and experiment with her paints, perhaps trying colour mixing and after all that activity it’s time to sit and read a book (or choose from one of the other learning tools shown on the opposite page).

Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop!
Todd Tuell and Tad Carpenter
Abrams Appleseed

This is a fun, rhyming tale of an energetic would-be little ninja whom we first meet looking terrified of the rather large family dog.

Creeping away, he comes upon his younger brother happily playing with a balloon. Not for long though. With a deft ‘chop’ Ninja  removes the balloon from little bro., then proceeds to snatch his chocolate-chip cookie and with a further chop – delivered with his foot this time – destroys his block-built castle leaving the long-suffering toddler howling.

A change of heart caused by an unseen force calling ‘Ninja, Ninja, would you stop?’ sees our Ninja then pause and help to reconstruct the building before whizzing off once more into the great outdoors.

It’s there that he receives his comeuppance, discovering – much to his surprise – that little brother is actually a highly observant pupil. Time to join forces it seems, for two Ninjas may well be better than one, certainly when it comes to scheming.

There’s a slight retro feel to Tad Carpenter’s bold, bright scenes from which the black-clad Ninja leaps out – literally! I can see little ones joining in, enthusiastically chanting along with adult readers aloud of debut author, Todd Tuell’s staccato text, as they turn the pages.

All Around Bustletown: Summer / All Around Bustletown: Autumn

All Around Bustletown: Summer
All Around Bustletown: Autumn

Rotraut Susanne Berner
Prestel Publishing

Completing the seasonal visits to Bustletown are these two seek-and-find books from Hans Christian Andersen award winner, Rotraut Susanne Berner.

The only words in the books apart from the plethora of signs, shop names etc. in the seven scenes of each, are found on the back cover. Nevertheless children will enjoy look, look, looking, over and over, inventing their own tales about the characters they meet on the pages; or instead, taking one particular scene and making up a story about what’s happening thereon.

For instance, there is a woman who is celebrating her birthday and has invited all her friends to a party in the park. Or why not follow Martha the penguin-loving nun who delightedly adds a penguin balloon to the fan she’s carrying only to have it blown away in a sudden squally downpour? Does she manage to retrieve it? You can find out on the final party spread.

Then there’s bookseller Wyatt, another party invitee: I’m sure Cara will be happy with his surprise gifts, not to mention the love element between the red-helmeted guy and the woman in checked-cut-off trousers. Do they make it to the party or head off elsewhere?

Oh! There’s also a mouse hiding in plain sight on every spread too: he needs to watch out for Tom the cat.

Autumn is the time when Bustletown holds a special festival and everyone is busy preparing. There’s an abundance of pumpkins large and small ready to be carved in the competition and the kindergarten we saw being built in the Summer book is now celebrating its opening with a lantern parade: so look out for children carrying all kinds of wonderful lanterns on every spread.

Martha the nun is there with her penguin too as well as, when she reaches the café on the final page, a funky ladybird lantern.

Oh my goodness: George and Anne’s huge pumpkin looks so heavy they can hardly manage to lift it up the steps and into the cultural centre where the carving is to take place.

Once again, there’s an absolute wealth of stories told and more waiting for readers to invent: just so many ways youngsters to let their imaginations soar here. The sturdy board book build of these two means that they should stand up to the enthusiastic use I envisage they’ll get if you add them to your collection.

Board Books and a Squidgy One

Baby’s Very First Faces
illustrated by Jo Lodge
Campbell Books

With its mirror, crinkly pages and high contrast images and patterns, this hand-washable book is just the thing to share with a new baby. It features in turn a daddy, a mummy, and a baby. In case you are reluctant to take it out of your home, there is a Velcro strap that can be attached to a buggy while you’re out and about.

Where’s Baby Chick?
Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

Spring’s well and truly in the air: the ideal time to introduce toddlers to some new life with this latest hide-and-seek book. Tucked away behind the felt flaps on the brightly coloured, patterned spreads are Baby Bunny, Baby Lamb, Baby Kitten and Baby Chick. The final spread contains a mirror and asks ‘And where are you?’
Simple interactive delight to share with your little one.

Bake a Rainbow Cake!
Amirah Kassem
Abrams Appleseed
A veritable explosion of colour is the outcome of artistic baker Amirah Kassem’s board book extravaganza.

She gives the essential step-by-step two word instructions at the top of each page, beneath which is a jazzy illustration with either a tab to pull, a wheel to turn or a flap to lift as you ‘Pour it!/ Mix it!/ Colour it! / Bake it!’ and so on until, once the frosting has been applied, it’s time to lavish on the sprinkles and wish. Then turn the page to the final …

Short and VERY sweet! Irresistibly so in fact. Mmm! Yum, yum. Yummy! Second helpings please, will come the cry from the little ones you share this tasty board book with.

Old Macdonald’s Things That Go
Jane Clarke and Migy Blanco
Nosy Crow

There’s a whole lot more sounds than moos and baas down on Old MacDonald’s farm: the farmer has a passion for noisy vehicles, by all accounts.
His car vrooms; his tractor chugga-chugga chugs; the combine goes rattle-swish everywhere. He even has a bus that beep-beeps its way around full of jolly animals.

Seemingly he has extensive farmland for there’s a swoosh-swooshing motor boat and it appears he’s fortunate in having a fire truck on hand to deal with accidents of the incendiary kind, ‘nee-nawing’ into action when things get a bit over-heated.

But there’s even more; I’ll let you work out what choo-choos across the fields and what zoom-zoom’s into the air.

Each of Migy Blanco’s jolly digital spreads shows the farmer and his animals joyfully dashing around in one or more of the vehicles, before the two penultimate tongue-twisting spreads, before the 50’s-looking vehicles whizz towards the finish line. If you can actually slow down though, there’s plenty to pore over in every scene.

Jane Clarke’s rowdy spin off from the classic nursery song will surely have little ones giggling as well as singing along. One wonders what else Old Macdonald might have down on that farm of his; or maybe he could take a holiday and experience all manner of seaside sounds.

Books For Babies And Beyond

Ducky’s Bathtime
Lucy Cousins
Walker Books

Quack! Quack! Hooray! – it’s Ducky’s bathtime day. In a lovely squishy waterproof, wipe- clean format, this delightful Ducky adventure is totally irresistible.

Not only does it provide the perfect opportunity to introduce Lucy Cousins’ adorable Ducky to babies, they can also meet the quacky duckling’s friends including fish, ducks, frog and newt.

Who Said Woof? / Who Said Moo?
Yi-Hsuan Wu
Little Tiger

Four animals in each book make their characteristic sounds but they’ve all hidden themselves away beneath flaps depicting four other animals each with a tactile die-cut shape on its back.

So, it wasn’t Bunny who said ‘Woof!, nor Guinea Pig who said ‘Meow!; neither did Goldfish ‘Squeak!’ nor Tortoise ‘Squawk!’ but lifting each flap wlll reveal the sound-creating creatures.

As you might expect. Horse did not ’Moo!, Llama certainly didn’t ‘Baa!’, Dog definitely didn’t ‘Quack and Rabbit wasn’t responsible for that ‘Oink!’

Toddlers will enjoy discovering the hidden culprits that they’re likely already to have guessed, beneath the flaps in Yi-Hsuan Wu’s jolly illustrations.

The final spread of each book collects together the entire cast of animal characters with a question “What sound do you say?’ – anything goes!

With their predictable repeat refrains, both books are just right for older siblings beginning to read for themselves, to share with a toddler brother or sister and everyone can enjoy making the animal noises.

You Complete Me
Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

‘Better together’ (a wider, hidden meaning perhaps?) is the message in this tasty, playful, peek-a-boo board book where partnerships prove paramount.

Set against vivid backgrounds, bright, eye-catching toddler foodie favourites such as milk and cookies, and peanut butter and jelly, unite to make the point loud and clear in Thomas Elliott’s delicious die-cut piece of daftness.

With its puns and clever design, adults will savour the pleasure along with their little ones as they share this one.

Board Books Matter

Board books form the bedrock of children’s reading – or rather one hopes they do; but not all new parents appreciate their potential and their importance. Thanks to Little Tiger, here are some new titles. The first is already published the others will be early in February.

Where’s My Unicorn?
Kate McLelland and Becky Davies
Little Tiger
Right from a very young age, there seems to be a magnetic attraction between young children, (girls mostly) and unicorns, so I’m sure this textured book will please.

Its first spread shows the rear end of a hoofed animal that has left a trail of footprints as clues to follow through the pages until the missing unicorn is found on the final spread hiding in plain sight.

On the way little ones encounter a mermaid with a colourful tail, a flamingo with soft fluffy plumage and a narwhal with a magical horn.

Tactile hide-and-seek fun for tinies who can enjoy the search as well as joining in with the repeat refrain, ‘Where’s my unicorn?’ Becky Davies provides the words, giving a sentence about each creature; Kate McLelland has created the alluring visuals.

What Can You See: On the Farm?
Kate Ware and Maria Perera
Little Tiger

As well as providing an introduction to what might be seen on a farm, and something to count on each spread, this, the first of a new ‘spot and count’ series provides plenty to interest little ones in Maria Perera’s jolly scenes of farm life.

First we visit the farm shop where different kinds of delicious-looking vegetables are on sale. Lunchtime is an opportunity to watch the sheep being fed; the pigs too need feeding and fruit trees near their sty supply a wealth of apples when they’re ready for eating.

The farm also has a duck pond alongside which is a weeping willow; there are several different kinds of birds to see in that scene.

Later in the year, the combine harvester gathers the wheat from a field where lots of small creatures have made their homes; and finally it’s teatime and the farmer collects eggs from the barn where there are hens, cows while other animals scamper along the rafters.

Toddlers can by means of the die-cut visuals, acquire some facts, do some counting and develop their observation skills, using Kate Ware’s words as guidance.

I Can Do It!
Patricia Hegarty and Hilli Kushnir
Caterpillar Books

Try teaching preschool and reception age children and you’d be amazed how many 4/5 year olds start school unable to dress themselves properly. I know parents find it easier when they’re rushed in the mornings to dress their youngsters but essentially this is deskilling children. Much better to set time aside to help them learn in a playful manner to cope with zips, buttons, poppers, laces and Velcro type fastenings themselves.

This robust board book with Patricia’s text and Hilli Kushnir’s enticing illustrations will be a boon in this respect.

Using five little children as models, the narrative provides an introduction to each fastening with instructions on how to work it, and asks each time ‘Can you fasten the …? alongside a bold, bright illustration of a child wearing the item needing to be done up.

One boy fastens shirt buttons, a little girl zips up her hoodie,

another boy does up the hooks and loops fastening on his coat; a child closes the popper on a backpack and finally a little girl has lace-up shoes to tie up on her trainers.

Fun, instructive and I assure you, early years teachers will be truly thankful if your child can manage all the five fastenings.

Board Book Delights

Both Walker Books and Nosy Crow publish smashing board books – here are some of the latest:

Little Baby’s Busy Day
Little Baby’s Playtime

Nick Sharratt and Sally Symes
Walker Books

These ‘Finger Wiggle Books’ are full of adorable babies doing everyday things, the action being supplied by inserting a finger through the two die-cut holes that go from cover to cover in each book.

Busy Day portrays wake up time, breakfast, looking smart ready to go out, shopping, having a wee, inviting a tummy tickle, a sudsy bathtime and finally, arms extended for a bedtime cuddle. Nick Sharratt supplies the bright jolly visuals in his unmistakeable bubbly style and Sally Symes has created the brief rhyming ‘One little baby … Wiggle wiggle … ‘ narrative.

Little Baby’s Playtime opens with travelling in a sling, then moves to a playground swing, a wizz down a ‘slippery slide’, a tricycle ride, a dig in a sandpit, a game of peek-a-boo, excitement at the sight of a butterfly and finishes with a farewell wave.

Terrific for sharing; and with their patterned text and inviting scenes, these two spell out loud and clear to tinies that all important ‘books are fun’ message.

If You’re Happy and You Know It!
illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang
Nosy Crow

This addition to the ever -popular ‘Sing along with me!’ series is another established nursery favourite. Here the main characters are bears with other creatures playing the bit parts. We first see the bears cooking together, after which they go out shopping together before returning home. Then small bear then goes out to meet some friends.

As they sing along, little ones can use their fingers to make the small bear clap, stamp, nod and on the final spread, reveal his friends and everyone can join in with the “we are” finale.

There’s a bar code to scan which will provide a version of the song to sing along to. With its cute illustrations, this will become a favourite in the series, I suspect.

Board Book Play and Learn

When I Grow Up I Want To Drive …
When I Grow Up I Want To Be …

Rosamund Lloyd and Richard Merritt
Little Tiger

Both books hide much of their brief snippets of information beneath the thirty flaps found between the covers.

The first offers 5 different vehicles – a tractor, an ambulance, a cement mixer, a recycling truck and an aeroplane each shown on the verso and then as part of an appropriate scene on the recto, while the final spread is an integral scene …

A similar pattern is used in the look at 5 possible jobs tinies might aspire to, with a representative from each introducing themselves opposite a look at the role in action. Again the places of work are all shown in the final spread.

Bright artwork by Richard Merritt shows in turn an astronaut, a teacher, an athlete, a firefighter and a doctor.

Let’s Find The Dinosaur
Let’s Find The Mermaid

illustrated by Alex Willmore
Little Tiger

Search-and-find fun with a hunt for a T.Rex in the first book, and Mermaid in the second, is given a tactile element with felt flaps and die cut pages.

As tots engage in the game of hide and seek they’ll listen to descriptive clues such as ‘T-Rex has a scaly head. Could this be T-Rex behind the leaves.’ Or ‘Mermaid has a swishy tail. Could this be Mermaid in the coral?’

Alex Willmore’s attractively patterned spreads will ensure that each game is a playful learning opportunity, while the repeat refrain textual patterning will help with word recognition if appropriate for the particular child.

Baby 101 Touch and Trace: Plant and Grow/ Build a House
Patricia Hegarty and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

Two new titles in the STEM series for toddlers take a look at horticulture and building construction.

Plant and Grow tells of the vital things needed for seeds to germinate and thrive until the crops are ready to pick and consume.

There’s a mathematical thread to Build a House with such vocabulary as basic 2D shape names and simple counting (of roof tiles) as well as a spread showing how bricks might be bonded.

Both titles have a tactile element thanks to the ‘touch-and-trace’ details built into Thomas Elliott’s illustrations on every page to  help develop the fine motor skills of little users.

Fun learning for babies and toddlers.

Board Book Fun

Making Tracks: Snow
Cocorette
Child’s Play

Whether it’s young Alyssa on her snowboard, a polar bear searching for food, Jian on her sled, a hungry robin looking for worms or the driver of a snowmobile, their actions make tracks in the otherwise pristine snow.

With die-cuts and flaps on every spread this is a lovely tactile board book for little fingers to explore as they respond to the question ‘Who is making tracks?’ at every page turn and enjoy the simple, brightly coloured images.

Gregory Goose in the Jungle
Gregory Goose on the Moon

Hilary Robinson and Mandy Stanley
Catch a Star

Gregory Goose is on the loose in two different locations, one earthly, the other lunar – eventually!
Before that, guided in the search by a series of questions presented by means of rhyming couplets, little ones can join in the hunt.

In the first book they’ll encounter elephants, lions, a host of hungry birds, hippos, snakes and zebras before they catch up with Gregory, unless of course they manage to spot him hiding in plain sight on every spread.

The second adventure sees the little goose donning his space boots and zooming around the galaxy before his game of hide-and-seek finally takes him to that place whereon he plants his flag before sharing in the welcoming spread.

Bright, jolly art from Mandy Stanley accompanies Hilary Robinson’s interactive narratives.

I particularly like the detail in his kit boxes that set the scene at the start of each story.

Let’s Go! On a Rocket
Let’s Go! On a Ferry

Rosalyn Albert and Natalie Moore
Catch a Star

Through Rosalyn Albert’s engaging rhyming texts and Natalie Moore’s bright alluring illustrations, toddlers can join the child adventurers in these two board books, becoming space explorers who entertain the possibility of meeting aliens in the first story, and passengers on a ferry ride whose captain takes them far out and fast, before bringing them safely back to the wharf.

In this new series, as well as enjoying the excursions, tinies will likely acquire some new vocabulary along with way.

Board Book Christmas

Just Right for Christmas
Birdie Black and Rosalind Beardshaw
Nosy Crow

A board book version of a Christmas favourite from a few years ago unfolods over two days.

It begins on a snowy Christmas Eve with the king walking around the market. His purchase of a roll of beautiful red cloth to make a cloak for his daughter results in the left-over scraps of fabric being placed outside the back door.  Jenny the kitchen maid finds them and makes  a jacket for her ma. The remaining scraps are turned into a hat for Bertie Badger’s pa, then gloves for Samuel Squirrel’s wife and a scarf for Milly Mouse’s little one, and all just in time for Christmas Day.

A warm, feel-good story ‘… just how Christmas should feel’ celebrating the pleasures of giving, made all the more so with Rosalind Beardshaw’s, mixed media illustrations that help stitch the narrative together beautifully.

The Twelve Days of Christmas
Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
Little Tiger

In this board book, using two enchanting elf characters and her trademark die-cut collage style illustrations, Britta Teckentrup presents a favourite seasonal song aimed at the very youngest listeners. As the song progresses, one verse per spread, the gift is revealed through the cut out. Then on the fourth day additional die-cuts are used to accommodate the 4 colly birds and so on until the eleventh day. On day twelve all the gifts are revealed around the tree on the recto while in the bottom corner on the verso the elves give each other a Christmas kiss.

Just right for tiny hands and there’s plenty of counting fun to be had too.

Wake up, Santa!
illustrated by Pintachan
Words & Pictures

With cleverly designed paper engineering and digital illustrations, this bright, jolly interactive board book will get little ones and their sharers in festive mood as they waken in turn Santa, the elves, Rudolph and a teddy bear.

There are things to find, name, count and talk about all in a tiny, fun-filled ‘Little Faces’ package.

Christmas is Awesome!
Sabrina Moyle and Eunice Moyle
Abrams Appleseed

The Moyle sisters go to town to demonstrate the veracity of their latest board book’s title.

Popping with neon pink, Eunice provides lively scenes of assorted animals getting into the festive spirit with ‘twinkling lights, silent nights, being nice ‘(of course) and much more.

Humorous touches abound with ‘ugly sweaters’, a dachshund sporting one such takes the opportunity to get beneath the mistletoe and bestow a long-tongued lick upon the cat’s beaming countenance; and don’t miss the lump of coal getting in on the act by knitting itself a sweater from ‘darkest black abyss’ yarn. And the nativity scene is priceless: Mary and Joseph are two birds looking benevolently upon their newborn baby Jesus – a haloed egg.

Sabrina’s rhyming narrative orchestrates the celebrations concluding thus: ‘Joy and kindness, love and fun, Christmas is for everyone!’ Their portrayal is certainly a whole lot of fun.

Busy Reindeer
illustrated by Samantha Meredith
Campbell Books

As an adult reads the rhyming couplets, little fingers can manipulate the sliders to activate Santa’s reindeer Ruby, then watch the sleigh take flight over a snowy landscape, help Santa down the chimney and finally, open the stable door for him to thank and bid goodnight to his number one helper. All of this is illustrated in Samantha Meredith’s bright, jolly scenes of a busy Christmas delivery round.

Board Book Miscellany

Goodnight, Rainbow Cats
Barbara Castro Urio
Chronicle Books

The setting is a big white house wherein sleeps Little Red Cat. How do we know this? Because on the recto we see a die-cut window coloured red, while opposite on the verso is a Little Green Cat about to cross the book’s gutter and enter the door of the house. And the text bids ‘Goodnight, Little Red Cat.’

When the page is turned it’s evident that the Little Green Cat is now inside and Little Yellow Cat (from the verso) will be next to enter.

All the while the narration is presented in a conversational style above the awaiting cat. For instance we read, ‘Up to a room in the big white house!/ Goodnight, Little Yellow Cat. / Look who is waiting outside. / It’s Little Brown Cat! / Where are you going, / Little Brown Cat?’ (Each new cat is introduced with its own colour font which will help little ones predict what colour window will appear next in the house.)

When all twelve cats are safely indoors and asleep in the big white house it’s time to bid ‘Goodnight, rainbow cats!’A fun bedtime wind down for little humans and one that’s sufficiently strongly built to stand up to the frequent readings youngsters will likely insist on.

A to Z Menagerie
Suzy Ultman
Chronicle Books

With wonderfully quirky illustrations some of which have lovely touches (the horse wears ‘high-tops’) Suzy Ultman has created a distinctive board book picture dictionary with a pullout tab highlighting each letter.

Every page features one letter that fills up with colour when its tab (placed halfway down the edge) is pulled; for instance the C becomes a caterpillar and O an owl.

The vocabulary is interesting and will likely introduce young users of the book to new words such as axolotyl, challah, iguana, pennant and zooplankton, as well as including some vocabulary you might expect.

The whole alphabet is introduced by a page inviting little ones to “look and touch’ and there’s a concluding A to Z asking users to choose a favourite discovery.
Idiosyncratic, gently educational and great fun.

Now for two Nosy Crow titles new in board book format both of which were smashing picture books previously featured on this blog:

Neon Leon
Jane Clarke & Britta Teckentrup

A book about a chameleon that’s great for audience participation and features colours, counting, camouflage and different environments.

There’s a Bear on My Chair
Ross Collins

This features a little mouse upon whose chair a huge bear has placed his bottom and it’s clearly going to be a difficult task to get him to shift it. So much so that the little rodent narrator decides that the only solution is to quit the scene and let his paws take him elsewhere.
Wonderfully droll illustrations and a superb monologue in a small package for small hands.

At the Beach, On the Farm, In the Forest, Under the Ocean
illustrated by Nancy Bevington
Catch a Star Books

Four Can You Find? board books designed to encourage the very youngest to learn new words are illustrated by Nancy Bevington. Her brightly coloured, amusing images of animals, plants and the occasional human are clearly labelled.

Of the eight double spreads in each book, the first seven are introduced by a sentence such as ‘Under the ocean there are …’, or ‘At the beach there is … ‘ and the final one asks ‘Can you find all the things under the … ? inviting users to turn back and look again at the previous pages.

Adults/infants can play other games such as finding all the things with wheels in the Farm book; there’s plenty of potential for extending the use of each book depending on the interest of the little one involved.

Flaps, Frights and Fun for Little Ones

Where’s Mrs Bear?
Where’s Mrs Witch?

Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

The two new additions to the deservedly popular hide-and-seek series that uses a simple repeat question and answer pattern are terrific fun. Using shaped felt flaps and a final mirror, tinies can enjoy discovering the whereabouts of several woodland animals in the former before being confronted, thanks to the hidden mirror, by their own image beneath the flap on the final spread.
The second title has a distinct Halloween theme with a skeleton, a spider, a vampire and Mrs Witch to find as well as enjoying a spot of self-revelation beneath the ghost.
Engaging, spot on interactive entertainment and unobtrusive learning for the very youngest.
Talking of Halloween …

 

Monsters Come Out Tonight!
Frederick Glasser and Edward Miller
Abrams Appleseed

There surely are all manner of ghastlies and ghoulies lurking behind the flaps in this jaunty rhyming, mock scary book. There are witches combing their locks, Frankenstein showing off his new sporty trainer boots, Dracula brushing his fangs and ghosties sporting bow ties and top hats. What is the purpose of all this titivating, you might be wondering. The final fold out spread reveals all.

Little human monsters can enjoy some monstrously shivery, door-opening fun herein.

Farmblock
Christopher Franceschelli and Peskimo
Abrams Appleseed

The latest of the popular block series takes us down on the farm where little ones can follow the two children through a day’s work as well as the seasonal activities that take place.
The cock crows, the children do their round, collecting eggs from the hens, carrying compost and then bathing the dog after a stinky roll in the muck, help with the milking and feeding the pigs. It’s harvest time so they stop for a lunchtime picnic in the field before picking baskets of rosy apples for pie-making .
There are pumpkins to carve, and later on a celebratory thanksgiving feast.
Winter brings the frost and snow; Mum chops wood and they make sure the animals and birds have enough to eat before heading home for toasted marshmallows by the fire.
At last it’s spring and with it come baby lambs and seed planting.
When summer arrives there’s grass cutting and baling, berry picking, and jam making ready for the farmers’ market.

As is characteristic of the series, this one has gatefolds, die-cut pages and plenty to enjoy in team Peskimo’s attractive illustrations.

Yum Yummy Yuck
Cree Lane and Amanda Jane Jones
Prestel

Here’s a very simply illustrated board book that offers a fun way to show toddlers what is fine to consume and what definitely isn’t.

Using the titular patterned text followed by a ‘don’t put in your mouth’ item that is explained simply, such as ‘If you try to eat sand … you’ll immediately regret it’;’ or ‘Coins don’t go in your tummy, they go in your piggy bank!’ accompanied by simple stylised images of such items as ice-cream, fruit, vegetables as well as crayons, bogies, soap and toothpaste.

Having shared this, adults might collect items from around the kitchen and play a ‘yum’ ‘yucky’ game with their tinies using a thumbs up/thumbs down action to reinforce the idea.

Three Cheers for Kid McGear! / Crane Truck’s Opposites

Three Cheers for Kid McGear!
Sherri Duskey Rinker and AG Ford
Chronicle Books

There’s a new addition to the ‘Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site’ crew; she’s small and a lot younger than the other five trucks, clean and shiny in fact and sporting ‘cool attachments’.

The rest of the trucks are concerned about her lack of size but she’s willing to learn and ready and eager to prove her worth as a team member.

First though, at their suggestion, she waits and watches as the big trucks work on clearing the ground. Suddenly however, she receives a call for help as Excavator and Bulldozer find themselves trapped at the bottom of a steep hill.

Now it’s the time for the fast moving little Kid McGear to act

and so she does, masterminding a solution and directing operations so that the rescue becomes a team effort facilitated in no small way by her quick-thinking and agility.

Toot! Toot! Hurrah! A female truck in the team and already she’s shown her worth, demonstrating that, in this rhyming rendition with its golden glowing AG Ford illustrations of the familiar construction yard inhabitants, size doesn’t matter that much.

Crane Truck’s Opposites
Sherri Duskey and Ethan Long
Chronicle Books

Crane Truck is hard at work at the construction site and with Excavator’s help he not only spends a busy day lifting and shifting, but in so doing introduces little humans to a host of opposites. In/out, fast/slow, above/below, near/far, lifts/lowers, heavy/light, dull/bright, big/small, tall/short, clean/dirty, day/night and finally open/closed are all woven into the short narrative that takes us through from sunrise to darkness.

Gently educational rhyming fun made all the more so by Ethan Long’s friendly vehicles from Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site.

A Forest’s Seasons / Apple / Who’s Hiding on Safari? & Who’s Hiding in the Jungle?

A Forest’s Seasons
Ingela P. Arrhenius
Chronicle Books

This tiny, chunky board book comprises just six pages, each differently shaped, showing the seasonal changes in a forest. ‘Spring brings babies and blooms’ we read, whereas summer is alive with different greens; in autumn we see fungi and a predominance of orange and browns while in winter the landscape is blanketed in white.

A delight for small hands and a lovely introduction to the idea that nature is cyclic.

Apple
Nikki McClure
Abrams Appleseed

Essentially what is the life cycle of an apple but interspersed with human interaction is presented in just fourteen words, – a single one per spread – opposite one of McClure’s signature style black and white cut outs. The apple being the only red, in each composition makes it stand out.

In autumn an apple falls from the tree; it’s collected and put into a sack with others.

Back at home, a little girl watches her mother cutting the apples and seizing her chance takes one (SNEAK) and pops it into the school bag and off she goes to school. Intending to consume it later she begins playing and the apple lies forgotten.

Eventually it rots, is composted and finally in spring we see it’s sprouting into a new tree.

There’s a final explanatory page reminding readers that ‘apple seeds rarely grow into trees that make tasty apples.’ Nonetheless this book is an effective and simple lesson and one whose outstanding art offers much to enjoy and discuss with little ones.

Who’s Hiding on Safari?
Who’s Hiding in the Jungle?

Katharine McEwen
Nosy Crow

By means of her alluring colourful collage spreads, Katherine McEwen takes little ones to two locations to spend a day playing animal hide and seek either in Africa or the South American rainforest.

On Safari, from early morning the grasslands are an exciting place to watch wild animals be they nesting, napping, digging, playing, having a cooling afternoon swim in the river or basking in the warm sun. Come evening you can spot hungry giraffes grazing on the trees and perhaps spy a monkey or two nibbling; and when it’s dark it’s the turn of the bats and foxes to appear while their fellow creatures sleep.

There are also lots of lively animals around Hiding in the Jungle amidst the lush flora and in the overhead canopy.

Little ones can also search for others hiding along the steamy riverbank, beneath the surface of the river and, in the cool of the evening, look among the foliage for creeping, crawling creatures.

Night brings sleep for most, but lifting the flaps will reveal some surprises.

Both books contain simple factual snippets and every spread has several flaps to investigate, where there is information about the hidden animals.