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.

100 First Words / Betsy Rabbit in the Park & Ralphie Dog at the Station

100 First Words
Edward Underwood
Nosy Crow

This large format board book has seven spreads each devoted to a different theme – farm, outdoors, wild animals, the home, vehicles, about us and finally, bedtime.

Around fifteen named items are illustrated for every topic with additional objects hidden under flaps (two per spread) to further engage the very youngest.

The brightly coloured images are seductively arranged in a mosaic of contrastingly coloured frames of varying sizes. Each image is clearly captioned in an easily read font so that the book could also aid those beginning to learn English as an additional language.

Betsy Rabbit in the Park
Ralphie Dog at the Station

Melissa Crowton
Nosy Crow

This pair of interactive first story, board books have flaps – felt and cardboard – and mirrors (one a-piece) to help engage little ones in the narrative.

The first features Betsy who cycles to the park to meet her pals and enjoy sharing time together.

Ralphie has his suitcase with him as he heads to the station to buy a ticket. It’s a busy noisy place to wait before he boards a train bound for the seaside.

Both books have plenty for toddlers to enjoy as they listen to the simple narrative, hunt for items named, begin to count, look for differences and compare.

Unobtrusively educational and more important, fun to share.

 

Mary Had a Little Lamb & This Little Piggy / Little White Fish, Little White Fish has a Party, Little White Fish is So Happy

Mary Had a Little Lamb
This Little Piggy

Jarvis
Walker Books

Jarvis has taken as his starting point for these board books the opening lines from two nursery rhymes and from them created one with colour connections, the other with a counting twist.

So yes, Mary did have a white-fleeced little lamb that decided to follow her. But then so too did an orange tiger, a pink dancing hippo, a cool red monkey, a tiny purple mouse, a snapping green crocodile and a yellow giraffe.
Where though are they all going in Pied Piper fashion, making a merry din before boarding a bus takes them all to their destination

and a treat…

One little piggy went to market, so the rhyme says and Jarvis does too. Rather than staying home however, two more make a mess of parking their car; three get themselves in a terrible tangle when learning to knit; four get struck by the fitness craze. Block your ears when five make music.

Six scoff all the spuds, seven try their trotters as dancers, eight become super pigs but nine –phoah! pongy piggies all.
At least when ten get together they can all agree, somewhere muddy is the best place to be.

With Jarvis’ funky animals cavorting across the pages, lively little ones are going to love these neo nursery rhymes as they absorb the colour connections and join in counting the piggies. Above all though, they’re terrific fun.

Little White Fish
Little White Fish has a Party
Little White Fish is So Happy

Guido van Genechten
Catch a Star

These board books featuring Little White Fish can be read just for fun, but each has an inherent educational element.

In the first, the little fish (not strictly speaking white for he has a rainbow stripe along his back), has lost his mummy and is feeling sad. In his search he encounters other differently coloured sea creatures – a red crab, an orange starfish a yellow snail, a green turtle, a large blue whale, a purple octopus. Clearly none of these fits the bill but what about a large fish that also sports a rainbow across her back …

In the second book, the little fish celebrates his second birthday with a party to which he invites his friends that all arrive in pairs that show opposites; for example a small sea urchin and a big one,

a long sea snake and a short one, a sad dolphin and a happy one. (We discover why one is sad on the final spread that shows all twelve guests).

The third book introduces positional vocabulary (prepositions):  when his Mummy comes to get him, Little White Fish bids farewell to his playmates – snail in the shell, frog on the rock, crab behind the rock etc. then swims away in front of his mum assuring the others he’ll be back to play the next day.

With their simple narratives and vibrant sea creatures that stand out against the predominantly black backgrounds, all three are a delight to share with very young children either at home or in a nursery setting.

Marcel’s Parcels / Prima’s Missing Bunnies

Marcel’s Parcels
Prima’s Missing Bunnies

Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster

These are the first of Kate Hindley’s lift-the-flap board book stories set in Treacle Street.

Marcel the elephant stars in the first title and youngsters accompany him on his post round. His trolley, we discover when the flap is lifted, is loaded with lots of parcels so he has a busy time ahead.

His first delivery is to Prima Pavlova’s dance school with some much needed gear for their next performance.

The next stop is to unload a very large parcel for William at the pie shop,

followed by a wheel delivery for Arabella at Grease Monkeys Garage.

What about the final parcel; it’s addressed to the resident of the very last house in the street: now who could that be? …

We’re back at Prima Pavlova’s dance school for the second story and it’s the evening of the bunnies’ very first performance. There’s a big problem though: all the star performers have gone missing and Prima is in a terrible state. So much so that she needs the help of readers to search for them.

It’s a search that takes us high and low to the café, the prop shop, the orchestra pit

and finally the dressing room. How could they do such mischief on that important night? The audience are ready but can the curtain go up on time?

Kate’s characteristic quirky, patterned illustrations packed with wonderful details, along with her interactive narrative, ensure that little ones will demand these stories over and over, and eagerly anticipate further visits to Treacle Street.

Baby Touch: Playbook Baby Touch: Animals / Little World: In the City Little World: To the Moon

Baby Touch: Playbook
Baby Touch: Animals

illustrated by Lemon Ribbon Studio

Little World: In the City
Little World: To the Moon

illustrated by Allison Black
Ladybird Books

I’ve always advocated that adults should share books with babies almost from the time they’re born so it was good to receive these samples of two new series from Ladybird Books.
With their simple, colourful images, differently textured objects to feel, and texts that are baby appropriate, the Baby Touch books are ideal for the very youngest.

The Playbook even introduces lines from such classic nursery rhymes as ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ and “Teddybear, teddybear’.

In the Animals book the focus is on the animal names and their sounds. Both offer lots of sensory stimulation for babies from around 3 months although it very much depends on the child.

The Little World books are smaller in format and have a simple narrative running right through; and there’s an alternate push-and-pull element or slider on each of the four double spreads.

In the City keeps feet firmly on the ground – almost – as two very young children in the company of what could be grandparents encounter the hustle and bustle of urban life. There’s lots of traffic, a square to relax in for a while and perhaps watch some performers, an exciting museum to visit and the trip is rounded off by a boat trip down the river.

To the Moon blasts listeners off into space and thence to the Moon and is billed as being ‘based on the Apollo Moon landings’.

There’s a final fold-out vertical flap to add to the fun, as the explorers fire up the engines ready to lift off back home to Earth.

Both have lively illustrations that keep toddlers engaged and extend the potential beyond the basic narrative.

Oh! and there’s also a ladybird to find on every spread of all four books.

Engineering for Babies, Economics for Babies / Little Adventurers Airport

Engineering for Babies
Economics for Babies

Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

There’s a brand new ‘Science’ title as well as a ‘Business’ one in the Baby 101 board book series.

In the first book, tinies can find out some of the different roles engineers perform be that making, problem solving , improving how things work or perhaps investigating health-related issues.

Some will make enormous things while others such as molecular engineers work with things that cannot be seen with the naked eye alone.

A molecular engineer and a chemical engineer at work

Maths and science are often used by engineers in the planning of their projects: to a considerable extent our futures are in their hands.

Economics looks simply at the development of trading from bartering/swapping to pricing and what might affect changes in prices.

Both titles end by asking ‘Can you be a little … ?’ with a final lift the flap surprise.

Thomas Elliott’s boldly illustrated, bright colourful scenes will help babies focus their attention on each spread.

Just right for kick starting your toddler’s interest in STEM topics.

Little Adventurers: Airport
Jonny Marx and Cinta Villabos
360 Degrees

There’s plenty to engage little minds, eyes and fingers in this large format board book with its busy airport setting.
We start in the check-in area then move through security all a beep with detectors and a buzz with gizmos.
From there it’s on to the departure lounge to wait until the flight is  at the gate and ready for boarding.

On board the plane we see things from inside – the seating and cockpit, as well as being able to view the take off.

The final spread has a gatefold that opens right out to show the passengers’ arrival, passage through passport control and airport exit.

Every spread has straightforward narrative information, questions to think about, flaps to explore, speech bubbles and a bottom border of four items to spot.

Fun, interactive and with lots of potential for language development, this will keep your little ones interested throughout and they’ll likely keep going back to join the jet-setting family on their journey.

This is Frog / Let’s Find the Tiger

This is Frog
Harriet Evans and Jacqui Lee
Caterpillar Books

Rainforest dwelling Frog (a tree frog) needs help with everyday life and little ones can help him by following the author’s suggestions throughout the story.
Occasionally though the outcome is somewhat unexpected as when having followed him up the page, we discover Frog now upside down, but happily he can use those sticky feet to stay attached to the branch.
When he has a brief attack of forgetfulness as a swarm of yummy-looking flies are blown in his direction, he needs readers to show him how to use his tongue, and then to stop all but the one he’s savouring from buzzing away.

If Frog’s not careful he’ll be the next meal of a toucan who most definitely hasn’t come along for a friendly visit – a loud croak will warn our Frog though, along with a deft hand movement.

There’s more to do however, when monsoon rains come splashing down, especially as our Frog friend, being a tree frog isn’t enthusiastic about swimming, so help is needed to ensure that he ends the day’s adventure safe and sound on his branch to recover for his next round of froggy fun.

With a spattering of playful language throughout and a plethora of interactive opportunities for little ones to perform, Harriet Evans’ narrative should keep them interested throughout.

With occasional cutaway pages, Jacqui Lee’s amusing illustrations of Frog in his lush habitat make for a fun book to share with the very young, and along the way they might absorb a few Tree froggy facts.

Let’s Find the Tiger
illustrated by Alex Willmore
Caterpillar Books

In this seek-and-find, peep through, felt flap board book, little ones are invited to find Tiger. The playful creature has hidden away somewhere in the jungle wherein live lots of other creatures some of which when almost completely hidden away behind the flora or even in the water, might at first glance be the animal they’re looking for.

But the supposed long stripy tail, sparkly white teeth, curly whiskers,

and striped curvy objects are not Tiger.

Could the dark, tucked away location be its hideaway?

With an engaging question and answer, repeat refrain narrative and Alex WIllmore’s colourful jungle scenes to explore, this is both fun and gently educative.

Where’s My Jumper? / You Nest Here With Me / Let’s Count Vehicles / ABC Town

Where’s My Jumper?
Nicola Slater
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Meet Rudy: he’s lost his jumper – a pink one and a tad on the short side, but his favourite nonetheless.
The adorable little creature has searched everywhere, upstairs and downstairs, indoors and outdoors and round about. He’s looked in the bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, even underground. Where can it be? In his search he encounters a host of quirky creatures – tumbling cats, jiving llamas, prima pigerinas, ski-dogs, soapy blackbirds, jibber-jabbering sea creatures, muttering mice, three crocs,

and passing foxes but of his missing garment there is no sign.

Will your little ones find Rudy’s jumper before the end of the story.

With its die-cuts pages, flaps and lots of funky animals to count, it’s terrific fun and delivered through an enormously engaging text and equally frolicsome, bright, bold illustrations.

Hours of pleasure guaranteed with this sturdy board book that is bound to be read over and over …

You Nest Here With Me
Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple and Melissa Sweet
Boyds Mills Press

Making use of real scientific facts in the form of a narrative rhyming text, a mother and daughter team, Jane and Heidi, have written a delightful board book to share with your little ones at bedtime.

A human mother nestles her sleepy little daughter in for the night and then goes on to share with her the many ways birds bed down to sleep.
‘ … Terns all nest in colonies / Upon high cliffs, above rough seas. // But you nest here with me. // Some owls nest on oak tree boles, / Some down in abandoned holes, … ‘

Lilting and loving, the mother’s words are very easy on the ear, informing gently while helping to induce a safe soporific effect for the listener through the repeated use of ‘But you nest here with me.’

Working beautifully in tandem with the text are Melissa Sweet’s mixed media, gouache and watercolour illustrations executed predominantly in soft hues of green and blue.

As it originated in the USA, the names of some birds will be unfamiliar to UK readers but I’d still recommend this to share with the very young both at bedtime and as an introduction to birds and their nests and other elements of the natural world, at any time – perhaps before a nap or a snuggle together.

Let’s Count Vehicles
illustrated by Josh Cleland
ABC Town
illustrated by Tamara Petrosino
Highlights

There’s plenty to interest pre-schoolers in these two ‘Hidden Pictures’ titles both of which have gatefold flaps beneath which are large busy illustrations of scenes within which spotters have to locate the items pictured on the outsides of the flaps as well as those mentioned in the question, for example ‘Can you find 9 trains and 10 cars?’

The various locations, which include in the counting book, a funfair in the park; urban sights, a building site and a harbour, are populated by anthropomorphic animals.

So too are the town scenes in the ABC, which depict shops of all kinds – including I’m happy to say, a bookshop; a hospital, garden centre and fire station. A library and museum and a karate centre dominate a double spread; there’s an urban park square complete with bathing pool; and a railway line traverses another spread.

Engaging, fun and educative too, both these sturdy board books are great for developing vocabulary and visual skills in addition to the mathematical and alphabetic elements of the titles.

Joy / Harris Finds His Feet

Joy
Yasmeen Ismail and Jenni Desmond
Walker Books

A little grey and black kitty is in effervescent mood as she goes ‘Bounce bounce, ding-a-ling, ring ring, let’s sing! And who can resist her invitation as the happy creature plays with her favourite toy

and then in her glee, narrowly avoiding a large canine in front of her, uh-oh, down she tumbles ‘trip, trip, slip, flop and …

Happily however, there’s a parent not far away ready with a little hug, a kiss, a squeeze and a quick check the little kitty is okay after a bit of a tumble.

What a wonderfully upbeat, rhythmic text to read aloud is this one from Yasmeen and unusually, she hasn’t done the illustrations. Jenni Desmond did those and they’re equally joyful and brilliantly expressive; the two together have created a smashing book to share with your little ones.

And for those interested in developing young children’s sound/symbol awareness, this picture book is in an entirely different league from those specifically designed for that purpose.

Harris Finds His Feet
Catherine Rayner
Little Tiger

I adored this book when it first came out over ten years ago so was thrilled to get this board book edition to share with even younger little ones.

Meet Harris a small, very large footed hare. One day he asks his grandfather, “Why do I have such large feet, Grandad?”

Smiling, Grandad explains he and all other hares have big feet and goes on to demonstrate the benefits of same.

Together they spend time hopping, springing and mountain climbing with Harris copying his expert grandparent until he has mastered each skill.

They explore the world creating resting places as well as being active with Harris learning more every day …

until Grandad decides Harris is ready.

Then he explains gently that it’s time for Harris to discover more about the big wide world for himself and that is what the now stronger, bigger young hare does by using all the skills his Grandad has helped him to learn.

Every spread of this book is pure pleasure, as the little hare bounds gleefully across Kate Greenaway medal winning Catherine Rayner’s wonderful watercolour-washed spreads, pausing sometimes for discussions on his journey towards independence.

A must have addition to your board book collection.

Astro Girl / Where’s Mr Astronaut?

Astro Girl
Ken Wilson-Max
Otter-Barry Books

Space and stars enthusiast Astrid wants to become an astronaut, so she tells Jake her best pal as they lie stargazing.

She goes on to tell the same to her papa over breakfast.

He challenges her assertion with comments about orbiting the Earth in a spaceship, dining on food from tubes and packets, becoming used to zero gravity, conducting scientific experiments …

and sleeping alone among the stars: he seems pretty knowledgeable about life in space. Astrid assures her Papa that she can manage all those things even the solo sleeping.

The day comes for the two of them to go and collect Mama in the car.

It’s then that we discover the possible reason for Astrid’s enthusiasm about space and her Papa’s knowledge.

A joyful reunion takes place and thereafter the little girl starts reading avidly to learn as much as she can about how to achieve her ambition, and about some of those trailblazing astronauts who went before, several of whom were women.

Simply and beautifully told, Ken keeps readers interested in the theme by showing us space related items such as Astrid’s t-shirt, her breakfast cereal, Papa’s T-shirts, the cookie shapes they bake together, pictures, a toy – all of which help in the build-up to the grand finale.

A smashing book for young space enthusiasts and perhaps to share on Father’s Day.

For a younger audience is:


Where’s Mr Astronaut?
Ingela P.Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

Vibrant, immediately appealing illustrations characterise Ingela P.Arrhenius’ latest title for the ‘flaps and mirror’ series in an amusing introduction to space exploration for the very youngest.

The space travellers hidden herein are a delightful mix of human, canine and alien. There’s Mrs Engineer, Mr Space Dog, Mrs Alien,

Mr Astronaut and finally, whoever happens to be looking in the mirror tucked beneath the felt moon flap.

This one’s sure to add to the deserved popularity of the hide-and-seek series.

Animal Families: Forest, Animal Families: Safari / If I Were a Bear

Animal Families: Forest
Animal Families: Safari

Jane Ormes
Nosy Crow

Little ones can discover the parental names of a variety of animals in two different habitats.

Forest presents for example a ‘mummy fox’ or vixen, a dog (daddy) fox and then if you lift the flap on the recto, you discover some baby foxes or kits.

Interestingly both a female deer and a female rabbit are called does whereas a male deer is a stag and a male rabbit is a buck; their offspring are fawns (baby deer) and like foxes, baby rabbits are called kits.

A boar (male bear) and a sow (female) produce bear cubs.

The pattern is the same throughout with the little ones being discovered by lifting the flaps on each recto.

The final spread has gatefolds opening to showcase the collective nouns for each of the animal families included.

Safari is slightly different in that each of the parent animals (leopards, zebras, lions and rhinos) are referred to as ‘daddy’ or ‘mummy’ and beneath the flaps are hidden ‘baby’ leopards, ‘baby’ zebras and so on while the final spread asks tinies to point out various items such as a pink sun’ or ‘little yellow huts’.

The real strength of both books is Jane Ormes’ striking, screen-printed patterned animal images that all have a textured look about them providing further opportunities for language development.

If I Were a Bear
Shelley Gill and Erik Brooks
Little Bigfoot

Through Shelley Gill’s informative rhyming text and Erik Brooks’ splendid, realistic painterly illustrations, the very young are introduced to several kinds of bears, their habits and habitats.

They may be surprised to learn that not only are there black, brown and polar bears, but also rare blue bears and black bears born white, also known as Kermode bears.

Read to Your Baby Every Day / Hickory Dickory Dock

Read to Your Baby Every Day
edited by Rachel Williams, illustrated by Chloe Giordano
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Editor Rachel Williams has chosen thirty classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes, favourite nursery songs along with the occasional action rhyme for this collection for adult carers to share with babies.

Chloe Giordana has crafted beautiful, intricately detailed sewn accompaniments to the words using a mix of stitching and fabrics that are hand-dyed.

It’s never and I mean never, too soon to introduce babies to rhymes and songs; there’s absolutely no better way not only to bond with a little one, but it’s proven that exposure to the world around through spoken words, rhymes and songs gives young children a head start in education, and not only with respect to language learning and communication skills.

This lovely collection will introduce tinies to the likes of Hey, Diddle Diddle, Hickory Dickory Dock, Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star, Humpty Dumpty

and Little Miss Muffet along with Row, Row Row Your Boat, Hush Little Baby and I’m a Little Teapot,

and even both in English and French Are you sleeping?

A lovely gift to give a new parent.

Hickory Dickory Dock
illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang
Nosy Crow

A favourite rhyme with all the nursery classes I ever taught is this one that’s now given the ‘Sing along with me!’ format characterised by sturdy sliders and peep-holes. However in addition to singing the song, little ones will love watching the escapades of the mice as the clock strikes one, then two, then three

and finally four, and discovering that by four o’clock there’s not just one but four mice tucked up in cosy beds ready for some shut-eye, having escaped the clutches of the moggy character that has been eyeing them during the past three hours.

Yu-hsuan Huang’s illustrations are a delight with plenty to interest child and adult as they share the book or perhaps listen to the recording from the scanned QR code.

Choo-Choo Peekaboo / Marvel Alpha Block / Where Do Pants Go?

Choo-Choo Peekaboo
Gareth Lucas
Little Tiger

Artistically minded Zebra sets out one fine morning eager to spend a day engaged in his favourite pastime, painting. Seemingly however, his animal friends and acquaintances have other ideas.

Chaos ensues wherever poor Zebra stops and begins his artistic endeavours, be it city,

riverside, by a lake, deep in the countryside,

even atop a mountain he finds no peace. Surely nothing can disturb his nocturnal attempt though? Errrm!

It looks as though there is only one way to please everyone … BEEP BEEP! TOOT TOOT! And off they go …

With paint-daubing primates, a loop-the-looping porcine, roller-skating rabbits, cable-car riding cows, a space-ship sortie by sheep even; all of which are revealed from behind the gate-fold flaps, this interactive book will delight tinies, especially those with a penchant for noisy vehicles, madcap animals and surprises – that covers pretty much all of them.

Add to the mix, laugh-out loud scenarios, speech bubbles and a highly satisfying finale, I’d say Gareth Lucas has a hit on his hands with this sturdy board book.

And adults will enjoy the visual references to famous artists along the way.

Marvel Alpha Block
Peskimo
Abrams Appleseed

Bristol based illustration/design partnership Peskimo have chosen scenes and characters from the Marvel Cinematic
Universe for their latest Block Book. As usual it’s a chunky board book with flaps and splendid action scenes, that feature herein everything from Ant Man to Falcon,

and Pepper Potts to Xandar, Yondu and Zuri, before the entire cast assembles in alphabetical order on a grand finale fold-out.

Amazingly, each superhero represents a letter of the alphabet – a large cut-out capital letter that leaps up from the centre of the spread and beneath which lurks the superhero in an action scene (along with other characters who may or may not share the same initial letter).

Watch out for punch packing potential should more than one little would-be superhero get their hands on this simultaneously. With its super art, it surely is a winning alphabet book that I suspect, adults will enjoy almost as much as their young ones.

Where Do Pants Go?
Rebecca Van Slyke and Chris Robertson
Sterling

A fun interactive book about getting dressed takes toddlers through the routine dressing ritual. To avoid confusion, adult sharers not in the US should be forewarned that “underwear’ is used for pants and pants herein refers to trousers, so readers aloud will probably want to make some adjustments as they read the question and answer narrative with tinies.

Said tinies will doubtless delight in the cumulative, predictable text with its repeated final ‘and underwear on your bottom!’

and giggle over the silly placements of the various items of clothing in this book that reminded me somewhat of Shigeo Watanabe and Yasuo Ohtomo’s How Do I Put It On? that features a muddled little bear.

A satisfying finale sees all the fully dressed little ones enjoying some outdoor play together.

The Colour of Happy / Some Days / A Thank You Walk

The Colour of Happy
Laura Baker and Angie Rozelaar
Hodder Children’s Books

This sweet, simple rhyming story of a boy finding a dandelion seed head and what happens thereafter is the means for an exploration of feelings for young children around the age of the child narrator, using a rainbow of emotions and the fluffy seed head.

The child, out walking with a pup, spies a dandelion clock: ’Yellow is for happy when I spot a special thing,’ he tells us and having picked it, hops and skips along. But when a gust of wind whisks his treasure away, the boy is engulfed in dark blue sadness.

His emotions then run through the colour spectrum: red for anger as he watches it sail away;

green for feelings of envy when he sees a girl with the seed head; grey when he cannot believe things will be okay; gold for the kindly response from a little girl, and the return of hope as they play together chasing the dandelion clock while it sails off again;

purple for the proud feeling when the boy again holds his treasure safe and bids his friend farewell; orange for the mounting excitement as he heads home and finally, pink as he reaches the front door with his somewhat depleted, love-filled offering …

Little ones will certainly relate to Laura Baker’s lovely story, which offers a great starting point for becoming mindful about their own responses to situations. With a foundation stage class, I envisage children talking about the book, their own feelings with regard to a particular happening; and then perhaps responding with paints or whatever medium they feel right, in music or a dance with coloured scarves perhaps.

Some Days
Karen Kaufman Orloff and Ziyue Chen
Sterling Children’s Books

We all experience different feelings at different times and so it is with young children and this book, with Karen Kaufman’s lively rhyming text and Ziyue Chen’s warmly hued illustrations, conveys that huge gamut of emotions through the course of a year.

Through two young children, we share in their everyday highlights such as ‘chocolate pudding pie day’s’, ‘Kites up in the sky days. Jumping super high days’; the joys of swimming and sunbathing;

as well as the downs – a nasty cut knee for instance.

Some days are extra special like that for ‘picking out a pup’ or winning a cup. Then come fussy mum days

and days when raincoats just won’t do, and there are  too wet to play football days with glum stay indoors faces; better though are snow angel making days and watching a warm fire days.

The author acknowledges those bad days when everything feels wrong

and those when it’s best to be alone.

Finally comes ‘Learning to be me days’ which is really the essence of the whole, a book that celebrates the positive but doesn’t gloss over the negative feelings. It’s a good starting point for discussion in an early years setting, or after a one-to-one sharing at home, perhaps about how best to respond to and deal with negative emotions. After all, being mindful of, and being able to talk about, our emotions and feelings helps us best deal with them.

Helping to develop mindfulness in even younger children is:

A Thank You Walk
Nancy Loewen and Hazel Quintanilla
Words & Pictures

Nancy Loewen’s brief story of a mother and little girl walking their dog, Duke, is one of the Bright Start series aimed at developing emotional intelligence in the very young.

Simply expressed it tells how as they stroll hand in hand mother and child interact with the animals they encounter. The barking sounds of Duke, the chirping of birds eating seeds, a neighing pony fed carrots, an overturned beetle that they rescue, which flies off with a buzz-buzz,

are, the child is told, the creatures’ ways of saying thank you.

Cutely and expressively illustrated in black and white with orange pops, by Hazel Quintanilla the book demonstrates the importance of showing appreciation and thankfulness. It’s never too soon to start saying thank you and as an introduction to being mindful about expressing gratitude it offers a useful starter for a circle time session with a nursery group, or for individual sharing at home.

Board Book Gathering: Jump! / Hello House / Hello Garage / Meeko and the Big Red Potty

Jump!
Tatsuhide Matsuoka
Gecko Press

This is such a cool board book; it made me want to go out, find the nearest toddler, share the book and do some joyful, very noisy celebratory jumping about together.

The idea is so simple yet SO effective: a patterned text accompanies a statement going over two vertically opening spreads, starting with ‘A frog jumps. // Boing!’
It then proceeds to introduce other agile jumping creatures – a kitten, a dog, a grasshopper …

a rabbit, a snail – although that one just cannot get airborn,

a mother hen and chick, a fish and finally the small girl narrator of Tatsuhide Matsuoka’s cracking little book.

Ready to jump? Everybody ready? 1, 2, 3 … BOING!

Hello House
Hello Garage

Nicola Slater
Nosy Crow

In Hello House little Ludo is out and about in search of some friends to play with. He calls first at the home of Milly and Dylan who are busy cooking in their kitchen. Next stop is at the rabbits’ residence where he invites the bunnies to join him. Ludo and entourage then proceed to Ruby and Ned’s house and ask the pups to leave the TV and play outside.

Their final port of call is Bruno Bear’s and there they discover a sleeping friend who needs a spot of nose tickling to wake him from his slumbers. Then with all the friends assembled it’s time for some fun …

Little fingers will enjoy lifting the house-shaped flaps to assist Ludo as he rounds up his pals.

Equally enjoyable is Hello Garage and again Ludo is on the hunt for playmates only now his search takes him to the garage where he looks in various vehicles in the hope that he’ll find some not too busy animals with time to play.

With Leo, Mabel, Olaf, Daisy, George, and finally (after a tummy tickling rousing) Lucy duly invited, let playtime begin on the ‘soft, green grass’

Toddler fun through a pleasing repeat pattern text, and bright illustrations with plenty of detail to peruse and discuss.

Meeko and the Big Red Potty
Camilla Reid and Nicola Slater
Nosy Crow

Little ones just at the potty training stage will love that you can orchestrate Camilla Reid’s story by means of the strategically placed sound buttons as they hear how now a big bear, Meeko recently has graduated from nappies to big bear pants. However there are still times like this one when he just can’t manage to hold it and so does a wee, soaking his pants and the floor.
Happily next time though he remembers he needs to run to his red potty before it’s too late

and the simple story ends with a proud Meeko and equally proud parents and animal friends. Splendidly expressive illustrations from Nicola Slater make this down-to-earth board book a winner.

Kindness Rules! / Hide-and-Sleep

Kindness Rules!
Eunice Moyle and Sabrina Moyle
Abrams Appleseed

The Moyle sisters (aka Hello! Lucky), offer, courtesy of an elephant and friends, a lesson, or rather several lessons, in good manners. (Elephants are apparently ace when it comes to faultless etiquette.)

First though our magic manners advocate dons respectacles, positive pants and cape of kindness. Polite greetings, sharing, inclusivity, saying please, good listening and explaining one’s feelings, respecting the property of others, not invading another’s personal space; good table manners and knowing when to apologise are all presented as desirable and elephant ends with a summarising golden rule: ‘Treat others the way you want them to treat you!’,

Delivered mostly in rhyme, and through alluring, lively illustrations these lessons will prove invaluable when little ones start playgroup or nursery.

Hide-and-Sleep
Lizi Boyd
Chronicle Books

With her characteristic whimsy, Lizi Boyd has created another winner for little ones. Right from the start they’re urged to join in the play, look closely and carefully and try to discover the answer to the question, ‘Who is hiding?’ in the meadow and forest scenes.

Alternate pages of this tall book are split a little more than halfway down, which encourages readers to participate in the game and search for creatures among the flowers, trees, beside the pond and as day turns to night, on the moonlit hills, among the tree branches and up in the sky.

Every turn of the page reveals more creatures – blinking fish, a sneaking racoon, a resting turtle, a leaping frog, a dashing fox,

a sitting squirrel, a swooping owl and more. Deft fingers can create three alternative double spreads from two as they enjoy the captions that engage and move the game forward in response to the “Who is hiding?’ question it the bottom corner of each recto.

Just before the animals all, or rather almost all, bed down for some shut-eye, the answer to this persistent question is revealed.

Gentle, playful and thoroughly engaging: Lizi Boyd’s richly patterned, stylised images in jewel-like colours provide delight at every turn of the page; but as for the titular ‘sleep’, well, forget it until the final pages; this is full-on energetic frolicking.

Who is Afraid of Little Wolf? / Marley Bear at the farm / Ottie Elephant in the town

Who is Afraid of Little Wolf?
Yayo Kawamura
Prestel Publishing

A bored little wolf is eager to find a playmate but he’s rebuffed in turn by little squirrel, little rabbit and little fox each saying that their mother doesn’t allow them to play with wolves.

Feeling rejected and sad, the little wolf hears a voice inviting him to play. It’s little bee, who is definitely not afraid of him and wants to play hide and seek.

So much fun do they have that the forest resounds with their playfulness.

All of a sudden, first squirrel and then a host of other animals want to join the game …

It’s never too early to demonstrate to the very youngest the importance of friendship and of not prejudging others; Yayo Kawamura’s delightful little book with its endearing characters does both of those without a hint of preachiness.

Marley Bear at the farm
Ottie Elephant in the town

Melissa Crowton
Nosy Crow

Part novelty lift-the-flap, part seek-and-find, these tactile board books, the first two of a new series, involve little ones from the outset.

Marley Bear stars in the first book and we join him on a farm visit. There’s plenty to discover as he’s greeted by Gus Lion,

encounters some noisy farm animals including a pig family, a soft, fluffy sheep (very strokable) and then looks at more farm animals, the farmhouse and a truck before jumping into his car to drive home. Highly interactive, with some subtle positional vocabulary learning (in front/behind).

It’s a busy day when Ottie Elephant makes a trip to town; the place is bustling with shoppers and full of noise;

there are many colourful sights to enjoy, and as well as counting Ottie’s flowers, little ones can explore her shopping basket before she sets off home for some welcome refreshments.

Little Duck Duck hides in plain sight in every spread adding to the enjoyment of both books.

Lots of inherent learning, but most important, lots of fun to share with tinies.

 

 

Board Book Extravaganza

Cat & Mouse
Britta Teckentrup
Prestel Publishing
There’s a surprise ending in store for listeners to this rhyming tale of a cat and mouse chase.

That though is getting ahead of the tale that begins with a warning to Little Mouse to hide inside the blue house. Through the door goes Little Mouse but the door is open wide so another furry creature enters too.
A chase ensues with Mouse running round and round eventually diving down a hole leaving the moggy pondering momentarily on his whereabouts and the little rodent in boastful mood.

Not for long however for the mouse soon exits the hole and the chase is on again.

A clever manoeuvre on Mouse’s part sees him outside under the moonlight without a hint of a cat. Not for long though for Mouse is being trailed around and about and back to the house that both creatures enter. But is all as it first appeared?

With its strategically placed die-cuts, minimalist illustrations and playful narrative this board book will amuse little ones who watch the lively events as they unfold towards the unexpected finale.

Hug Me Little Bear
Chronicle Books
Here’s a very cute little finger puppet book that, courtesy of a thoroughly endearing parent bear, little ones find out what arms can do. There’s a favourite song to dance together to; a gentle game of lift and catch; scrummy breakfast treats to cook up; a tummy tickle and best of all lots of ‘I love you’ hugs.

Full of sweetness and bound to bring on big smiles is this cuddlesome offering.

Little Plane
Taro Gomi
Chronicle Books
It’s take off time for Little Plane. He zooms skywards for an adventure one beautiful day. However his playful flight suddenly encounters some turbulence courtesy of the smoke pouring from the factory chimneys to which he gets a tad too close.
His landing attempts as he skims and tries to stop atop a tree and whizzes into a very muddy mountain aren’t a great success; and then it looks as though our intrepid friend is about to become engulfed within the huge open mouth of a building.

All ends happily though as Little Plane emerges safely, ready to fly off back home, looking even more shiny-bright than when he began his adventure. (A plane-wash perhaps?)

Little Plane is, like most little humans, learning by experience to cope with the ups and downs of life, and showing resilience in so doing.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site: Bulldozer’s Shapes
Sherri Duskey and Ethan Long
Chronicle Books

Get ready to shape up along with your little ones and their favourite construction vehicles, in particular big Bulldozer. Aided and abetted by Crane Truck he prepares the site for building. Along the way he shifts the rubble forming first a squiggle, then a ‘triangle’ (strictly speaking though it’s a cone), a circle, a diamond, a rectangle (kind of! But it’s more of a cuboid), a star, an oval and he finishes by squaring the plot off, nice and flat.

With Sherri Duskey’s rhyming couplets and Ethan Long’s digital art this little book will appeal to the many established fans of the series. I’d suggest reading it along with some small world construction toys and a set of both 2D and 3D shapes.

Pigs in a Blanket
Hans Wilhelm and Erica Salcedo
Chronicle Books

Before you  even open up the first page, you’ll be captivated by this charmer with the porcine trio fast asleep tucked cosily beneath the wrap-around blanket that stays in place courtesy of the strategically placed hidden magnet on the front cover.

We then follow the pigs as they wake up, playfully get dressed and style their hair before setting out for a run. The three also attend a ballet class, do a spot of baking, revel in some puddle jumping followed by a warm-up treat.

Goodness they do pack a lot into their day, as there’s still time for some theatrical fun before their bath, tooth-brushing and final clambering back into bed in their moonlit room.

Wilhem’s rhyming text coupled with Salcedo’s comical, energetic piggy scenes make for a fun-filled book that celebrates the simple delights of early childhood and is ideal for sharing with the very young, who are likely to recognise the piggies’ actions as akin to their own.

Nibbles Numbers / Little Fish and Mummy / Where’s Mr Duck?

Nibbles Numbers
Emma Yarlett
Little Tiger Press

Emma Yarlett’s little yellow book-eating monster Nibbles is back and now he’s got his teeth into a board book. One might think that chomping through card would be a challenge too far but no. Once released the little fellow immediately starts sinking his gnashers into the pages and even has the audacity to nibble into the numerals leaving fairly sizeable holes.

Moreover he’s sabotaging our counting practice and just when we think we’ve cornered the little munching rascal, he makes a dive for it and disappears through the final spread, only to emerge on the back cover with a satisfied grin on his face.

Smashing fun and what a delight to be able to introduce my favourite little monster Nibbles to a younger audience.

Little Fish and Mummy
Lucy Cousins
Walker Books

The latest Little Fish book is narrated by none other than Little Fish who is particularly excited about sharing with listeners a ‘Mummy Fish and me’ day.

This special day is spent on lessons in swimming and bubble blowing, splishing and splashing with all the other fish, a game of hide-and-seek just with Mum and a look inside a deep down cave.

What better way to end such a great day than with a round of kissing – ‘Kiss, kiss, kiss!’

Irresistible if you know a little one who’s a fan of Lucy Cousins’ endearing spotty Little Fish, and I certainly know a lot of those.

Where’s Mr Duck?
Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

The latest felt flap hide-and-seek board book in this deservedly popular series is set around the pond. In its environs little ones can discover Mrs Butterfly, Mr Frog,

Mrs Worm, Mr Duck and finally as the creatures look on, him or herself.

With its characteristic question and answer format, a wealth of opportunities for developing language, bold bright art and satisfying conclusion it’s no wonder the series is such a success; this one will be as popular as its predecessors.

Tooth / Big Kid Bed, Bizzy Bear Knights’ Castle, Mix & Match Farm Animals

Tooth
Big Kid Bed

Leslie Patricelli
Walker Books

Baby, the star of several previous board books including Toot returns in two further amusing and appealing episodes.

Tooth begins with the star of the show exhibiting some distress about a strange feeling in the mouth. Before long we discover that Baby is getting a tooth, shiny, white, hard and sharp. Not just a single tooth though, there’s another and then two more follow.
Having shown those shiny gnashers, Baby demonstrates some things good and not so good that can be done with the teeth.

Very important too is taking care of teeth and we see how even one so small is conscientious about dental hygiene.

Brushing twice a day and flossing (with Daddy and Mummy’s help) are part of the little one’s daily routine.

Patricelli’s straightforward first person text combined with scenes of the adorable Baby is irresistible.

The same is true in Big Kid Bed. Here the toddler tells of bedtime preparations for a sleep on ‘my new big kid bed!’ How exciting; but the bed is so big and the toddler so small it’s as well that Mummy and Daddy are on hand to make things easier, piling up pillows around the bed in case of a fall and bringing in Baby’s stuffed animals to snuggle up with.

Comfortable as Baby might be, there’s the possibility of getting out of bed again to investigate what other members of the household are doing during the night, until finally, YAWN; sleepiness takes over and it’s time to return to the warmth and cosiness of that new bed for a good night’s sleep.

Who could ask for more from a bedtime book for the very youngest?

Bizzy Bear Knights’ Castle
Benji Davies
Nosy Crow

In this adventure Bizzy Bear finds out what life as a knight is like when (with a bit of help from small fingers that slide the helmet visor up and down) he dons a perfectly fitting suit of armour and visits a castle.
Once kitted out and inside, Bizzy tries his paw at brandishing a sword

and then on the next spread, at jousting before finally sitting down to participate in a delicious-looking banquet.

As with other titles in the series, the engaging simple rhyming text, brightly coloured illustrations with just the right amount of detail (look out for the dragon) and those interactive features – sliders and tabs that are easy to use, make this well-constructed book ideal for toddlers.,

Mix & Match Farm Animals
Rachael Saunders
Walker Books

With the same innovative design as previous titles in this mix & match series (a tiny board book within a small one) young children are invited to match the larger surrounding page with its ‘Who says …?’ question to the appropriate smaller inset animal spread showing the animal that makes the sound.

The animals featured in the smaller book are all adult while on the surrounding pages young animals are depicted, as well as other appropriate clues, for instance there’s a calf, a bull, a barn and a bucket of milk on the ‘cow’ spread.
On the final ‘sheep’ spread we meet a farmer and sheepdog in Rachel Saunders’ illustration.

A clever format, and a playful and enjoyable way to introduce or re-enforce farm animal sounds to the very youngest

Zoology for Babies / Architecture for Babies & Look & See: Fun with Shapes

Zoology for Babies
Architecture for Babies

Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

Here are two new additions to the Baby 101 series, the zoology one being billed as ‘science’ and the architecture book as ‘Art and Design’.
Zoology acknowledges the ubiquity of animals, and their varying sizes; introduces the idea of herbivores and carnivores (although not in those terms).
Birth and life cycles are also touched upon

as is movement.
We’re shown several different habitats and the animals living therein; and the fact that animals can be nocturnal is also given a spread.
The final spread asks somewhat tongue-in-cheek: ‘Are you a little zoologist? And has a drop down flap to investigate.

I’m not sure how many babies would be interested in buildings – it depends on the skill of the adult mediator – although I can certainly see the Architecture book being a useful addition to a nursery topic box.
It embraces history, geography, the role of an architect and builders

as well as introducing various building materials. Architectural designs for different functions including homes, schools and shops are also introduced. It’s good to see a bookshop included.
Like Zoology, the final spread herein asks ‘Are you …’ and has a final flap to investigate, beneath which is to be found what I suspect will be of most interest to the very young …

Bold, eye-catching illustrations and design, minimal wording and simple facts characterise both books.

Look & See: Fun with Shapes
Emanuela Bussolati and Antonella Abbatiello
Sterling

Youngsters are presented with ten basic 2D shapes to touch and explore in this playful board book.

A sequence of bright die-cut collage style illustrations featuring a girl and boy show in turn a square picture frame,

the circular body of a peacock, a triangular boat sail, a hexagon-shaped space craft and a host of other colourful objects on the recto pages and on the verso is an engaging text and three possible items that might be created using the particular featured shape as a starting point.

Inspiration for further creativity perhaps.

Pip and Posy The Christmas Tree / All Aboard for Christmas

Pip and Posy The Christmas Tree
Axel Scheffler
Nosy Crow Books

Pip and Posy are a duo much loved by countless under fives and now they star in a lovely new tale that’s a great seasonal treat.
It’s Christmas Eve and the best friends bring home a Christmas tree. Once installed in a large pot, they set to work decorating it.

First off they bake some festive biscuits to hang on it. Then Posy goes to get the candy canes but when she comes back, one of the biscuits has mysteriously vanished.

The same thing keeps happening: each time she turns her back to find more goodies to add to the tree, there’s one less decoration when she returns. Hmm!

Young children will of course relish seeing what Posy doesn’t. Nor does she realise what’s been going on until she finds Pip flat out on the sofa with a rather bulging tum and saying he’s feeling sick.

Posy keeps quiet and allows Pip time to confess and then the two work together towards a satisfying solution to their lack of tree ornaments

and for listeners especially, there’s a lovely, even more satisfying finale come Christmas morning.
An enormously appealing festive addition to this ever-popular series of Axel’s.

All Aboard for Christmas
Andrew Kolb and Nichole Mara
Abrams Appleseed

There’s a train full of seasonal fun just waiting at the station – it’s Santa’s Christmas train with a gingerbread driver. Inside (lift the flaps to see within) it’s packed full of brightly coloured things to look for and to discuss, questions to answer and most important, lots to enjoy. There are elves and reindeer, penguins, pies and plenty of other good things to eat, toys and other treats.

Once extended, the train is over a metre long and you can reverse the extended carriages to see the frozen, snowy landscape through which Santa journeys, all the while searching the carriages for his missing boot..

With its die-cut windows, there’s plenty to engage little ones who take the ride on Christmas Eve.

Early Years Assortment: Where’s Mr Penguin? / Monsters Go Night-Night / Balance the Birds

Where’s Mr Penguin?
Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

Just right for sharing with the very youngest is this new addition to the Nosy Crow felt flaps series splendidly illustrated by Ingela P Arrhenius.

Infants will be immediately attracted by her colourful art and be enchanted to join in the game of hide-and-seek to find the missing animals – Mrs Seal, Mr Seagull, Mrs Whale and Mr Penguin that have tucked themselves neatly behind the bright, shaped felt flaps before seeing themselves in the final spread.

Monsters Go Night-Night
Aaron Zenz
Abrams

As you might expect, the bedtime routine for little monsters isn’t quite the same as that of little humans. Yes they do have an evening snack, bath, don their night attire, find something to snuggle up with, clean their teeth, use the potty (yes they’re like little humans in this respect) and they do love their ‘night-night kisses; but bedtime feasting after they’ve cleaned those teeth, now that is not such a good idea.

The seven little monsters certainly do have a lot of fun in this participatory guessing game story. Let’s hope it doesn’t put ridiculous ideas into the heads of little humans though. Sleep inducing, it definitely is not.

Balance the Birds
Susie Ghahremani
Abrams Appleseed

Following her Stack the Cats, Susie Ghahremani presents youngsters with another mathematical observing/thinking game.
To get the most from it I’d suggest having read the title and the opening page, that the adult pauses to give children time to do their own thinking before turning the page to reveal how the birds settle.

Their equilibrium however is soon upset by a pesky squirrel that sends half of the feathered creatures flying, leaving the branches unbalanced unless they rearrange themselves.

Another squirrel sighting then causes the hasty departure of three of the four remaining birds. Along comes an owl: now what? Certainly it’s much too heavy to balance the single remaining little blue bird.

With the advent of each new intruder, the balance becomes far more of a challenge to young humans who will likely enjoy observing the chain of events in all its colourful glory without becoming too bogged down in the mathematical concepts.

A simple balance, some small toys of equal weights and a larger one, will clarify things.

Halloween is Coming: The Right One / Monster School / Bizzy Bear Spooky House

The Right One
Violeta Noy
Templar Books

New Spanish author/illustrator Violeta Roy presents in bold graphics, a cute story about daring to be different ghost-style: it’s perfect for Halloween, especially for those who don’t like to be scared.

Roderic is the smallest ghost in a very large, ancient family. They all look pretty much alike on account of wearing sheets although Roderic’s is the tiniest.

This diminutive ghost is the last of a long line and he feels more than a little insignificant. None of his family seems to notice his presence. Roderic decides to do something about this. His name is fixed, ditto his family but he can change his appearance. Both a hat, and a scarf prove problematic.

Next morning, deciding a more radical approach is required, our little ghost experiments until finally he’s ready to sport his new gear.

However the reception he receives isn’t quite what he’d hoped, so off he goes to strut his stuff among the city folks. Once again though, nobody notices him at all: poor little thing is now feeling even more invisible than ever.

Back home again he’s given a fresh white sheet but it makes him anything but happy. His frustration causes things to start flying around, one of which just happens to land upon the little ghost and yippee! It feels absolutely right.

What’s more, it looks absolutely right and now nobody is going to stop him from wearing it.
And maybe, just maybe, his new appearance might have some influence on other members of Roderic’s family.

For older readers:

Monster School
Kate Coombs and Lee Gatlin
Chronicle Books

A school it may be, but despite its fairly typical activities – homework for example, there’s a class pet and a regular weekly menu on offer at the cafeteria – Monster School’s pupils are anything but your usual boys and girls; the staff are pretty weird too.

Let’s meet some of them. There’s Stevie the Loser, who manages to lose pretty much anything and everything from backpack, book and homework, to his eyeball, kneecap and arm; what a zombie! He may not be able to find said homework but keen-eyed readers will surely spot it still attached to that missing arm of his.
There’s also ‘a ‘multicultural’ miss – whose family tree comprises giants, witches, trolls and other ghoulies.

Computer Wizard has tech skills aplenty: app creator, program writer extraordinaire, with a mouse that dines on virtual crackers and cheese and a ram that consumes virtual grass; seemingly this guy can do anything so long as it’s not a word problem.
I should also mention she of the amazing hair; it’s entirely reptilian with an abundance of adders, vipers and other venomous twisters and twiners.

Katie Coombs imaginative verses employ a variety of forms that will send tingles down the spines of primary age readers while Lee Gatlin’s creepy illustrations home in on the grim and gruesome with plenty of details of the shivery kind.

For the youngest:

Bizzy Bear Spooky House
Benji Davies
Nosy Crow

In his latest adventure, Bizzy Bear dons his starry costume and accompanied by his pal, ventures into a spooky house. Therein are plenty of things to make him shiver as he enters the spiders’ web festooned hall, climbs the creaky stairs and discovers a surprise party at the very top of the house.
Benji Davies’ scenes have plenty to amuse and explore and with a slider or tab to manipulate on every spread, this is mock scary Halloween fun for toddlers.

Rosa Loves Cars / Looking Good! / Matchstick Monkey: Colours

Rosa Loves Cars
Jessica Spanyol
Child’s Play

This is one of a new board book series that celebrates the uniqueness of every child; it stars car loving Rosa. She likes nothing better than to do stunts and act out scenarios with her vehicles small and large.

Using her imagination along with some small world toys. she plays with them and her pals in a variety of places such as in the sandpit and on the car mat.
Finally Rosa and friend Samira use a large cardboard box to build a car themselves; it’s a great place for having a snack.
Rosa is a delight and it’s great to see books for the very youngest that promote gender equality.

Looking Good!
Ailie Busby
Child’s Play

We meet five adorable babies who have a characteristic- floppy ears, big eyes, pointy nose, sharp teeth and little toes and fingers – similar to in turn, Elephant, Bush baby,

Fox, Crocodile and Lizard.

Infants beginning to talk will soon enjoy being able to join in the repeat ‘So do I!’ hidden beneath the flap on each spread.
With their various expressions, the babes show off their particular feature that is similar to the animal flap beneath which they hide.

Fun, interactive and great for promoting early language.

Matchstick Monkey: Colours
Ladybird Books

Some people tend to show off and brag about their talents, confident in their ability to be the best no matter what. Others just quietly get on with the job and surprise everyone.
So it is with the simian inhabitants of Matchstick Jungle. Red monkey with his dazzling spins is convinced he’s the quickest and certain to win the race; the swaying blue monkeys think otherwise.

So do the zigzagging yellow and pink monkeys, while loop the looping green monkey thinks he’s the speediest and bouncing orange monkey announces that he’s fastest of all.
But what about quiet, unassuming grey Matchstick Monkey, could it be that he has something to show the others …

As well as enjoying the simple story, toddlers will have great fun using a finger and following the trails of each of the competitors in this Matchstick Monkey teether-toy inspired board book and develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination at the same time. They might also enlarge their understanding of some colour names along the way.

Board Book Friends: Guess How Much I Love You:Here I Am! A Finger Puppet Book / Maisy’s House

Guess How Much I Love You:Here I Am! A Finger Puppet Book
Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram
Walker Books

Here’s a super-gorgeous finger puppet board book about everyone’s favourite Little Nutbrown hare and his adoring Big Nutbrown hare.
To delight all little ones and their adults the two engage in a game of hide-and-seek in the environs of their favourite tree.

Little Nutbrown hare likes to play over and over, hiding in different places and eagerly responding to Big Nutbrown hare’s “Where are you …? with a cry of “Here I am!”.

The game continues until Big Nutbrown hare is tired out and in need of a good rest: still though the little one has boundless energy as shown with the final … HERE I AM!”

What better company for a game of peek-a-boo with a baby or toddler, than the adorable plush finger puppet Little Nutbrown hare: total delight throughout.

Maisy’s House
Lucy Cousins
Walker Books

Maisy’s House is I think, a board book reworking of a much larger pop-up book published some years back.

Ever popular with tinies, Maisy Mouse invites them to visit her house and share her day. It’s a day she spends with Panda and Little Black Cat as they wake up, brush their teeth, dress and have breakfast.

Then Maisy gets creative,

plays and bakes some yummy cupcakes for the visitor due to arrive soon.

Before long, rat-a-tat; there’s Tallulah and it’s time for tea and more fun together.

With its fold-out play scene with pop-out pieces of Maisy and her pal, this simple, brightly coloured story is smashing fun for little ones. They may well need a little assistance manipulating the small removable parts and slotting them together.

Nature & Around the World / Look, a Butterfly! / Little Boat

Nature
Around the World

Nosy Crow

These are the two latest additions to the wonderful board book series produced in collaboration with The British Museum, each presenting and celebrating cultures the world over, and inspired by the enormous British Museum collection.
Nature celebrates both the flora and fauna of the world and the elements, from a shell to the sun; the squirrel to the sunflower and the butterfly to blossom.

It’s absolutely gorgeous and certain to engender curiosity about the natural world.
In Around the World fourteen cultures are represented through items from near and far: Egypt, France, Britain, America, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Korea, Mexico, Greece, China, Kenya and India each have a spread or page devoted to items including clothing,

musical instruments, buildings, jewellery, and much more.

Both are, like the rest of the series absolutely superb for developing language as well as being a brilliant way to introduce history and culture to your little ones, especially if you can combine it with a museum visit too.
If you can’t, worry not: each has an index as well as QR codes linking to additional information about each object featured.

Enormously worthwhile to add to bookshelves at home, or in an early years setting.

Look, a Butterfly!
Yasunari Murakami
Gecko Press

This lovely little board book is by award-winning Japanese artist/designer/author, Yasunari Murakami who is also an environmentalist and lover of wild-life. It begins with an irresistible invitation to notice, and then follow the journey of a butterfly as it explores what a flower garden has to offer.

We see the flower buds pop open and burst into a host of colours;

watch the little creature pause for a drink of nectar and revived, flit and flutter again before coming to rest upon a playful kitten.

This of course precipitates a game of flap and tease before the butterfly finally flies away.

Beautifully simple and attractively illustrated, it gives you an injection of joie-de-vivre and is perfectly honed  to be just right for sharing with tinies. Catch hold of this one before the butterflies disappear for the season.

Little Boat
Taro Gomi
Chronicle Books

Life lessons Little Boat style will delight fans of Taro Gomi’s previous Little Truck especially.

Here we follow Little Boat as he determinedly manoeuvres his way through bigger boats including a snarling one, braves the rough seas and stormy weather

until after his testing adventures, he finally meets his parent boat once more in calm waters.

Short and sweet: splendid entertainment for little ones and a great demonstration of remaining positive no matter what.

Anatomy for Babies / Botany for Babies

Anatomy for Babies
Botany for Babies

Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

Here are two absolutely lovely board books that are part of the Baby 101 Science series.

Anatomy for Babies starts by introducing basic body parts such as head, hair and foot.
It then takes little ones inside to look at bones

and muscles, and back out to see the skin.

Next comes the brain, followed by the lungs and the heart.
The alimentary canal comes next with a quick look at digestion.

Thereafter we move to the outside again for a focus on the five senses. Each part introduced has a sentence describing its function.
The final spread celebrates the notion of growth and has a lift-up flap.
And don’t miss the opportunity to do the action song ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes’ when you look together at the front cover.

Botany for Babies explores the world of flora starting, after a general celebratory introduction, with seeds of various kinds.

Roots and shoots and their respective functions come next and then an opportunity for some height comparison using a daffodil, a sunflower and a deciduous tree.
The following spread is devoted to root systems including some mouth-watering vegetables: it’s never too soon to introduce the idea of eating healthy veggies to little ones.

The focus then moves to trees of both the deciduous and coniferous kind, after which comes the role of leaves in photosynthesis (no that term isn’t used!).

Bees buzz merrily on the next spread where their role in pollination is mentioned.

A fruiting apple tree is shown bearing juicy red fruits and there’s also a cross section where you can see the seeds, which takes readers full circle back to seed dispersal on the final spread. There too is a flap to lift with a surprise beneath.
Adding to the enjoyment, insects and other small creatures form part of the illustration on almost every spread.

Both books have terrific STEM potential as well as being wonderful for language development; it all depends on the adult mediator.  Thoroughly recommended.

Board Book Beauties: I am Little Fish! / Wiggly Wiggly

I am Little Fish!
Lucy Cousins
Walker Books

I cannot imagine any little tot resisting Little Fish’s invitation to join him and play,  on the first page of this wigglesome, rhyming, finger puppet delight.

In addition to a whole lot of tail wiggling -at varying speeds – there’s bubble blowing,

as well as showing off his shimmying, twirling and whirling moves.

Then Little Fish introduces his fishy pals who’ve come to join him in a dipping down diving game of peek-a-boo.

And finally, up swims Mum for a spot of kissing.  Just perfect!

Wiggly Wiggly
Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell
Walker Books

Here’s a selection of the most join-in-able playful Rosen rhymes from the original A Great Big Cuddle, illustrated by Chris Riddell in super-energetic style.

It’s absolutely certain to get your little ones ‘Tippy-Tappy’ ing, ‘Boing! Boing’ing squash, squishing, ‘wiggly wiggly’ing, ‘buzz buzz buzz’-ing, ‘moo moo, moo’ing, ‘squawk squawk squawk’ing ‘splosh, splash, splosh’-ing, ( doesn’t Chris Riddell draw elephants awesomely,

not to mention finger walking, waving, talking, tiring, flattening, buttering, spreading and ‘bed’ding down.
There’s also plenty of munching and crunching as you lunch with a crocodile.

We meet sad-looking Mo being cuddled following a fall in a puddle and then it’s time for monkey business with half a dozen of the cheeky little animals.

After which, I have absolutely no doubt your toddler(s) will demand that you turn back and start all over again.

If this brilliant board book doesn’t give the vital ‘language is fun’ message to both children and adults, then ‘I never writ nor no (wo)man ever loved’ Apologies to the bard. No, not the author!

Little Owl’s First Day / This is the Way We Go to School

Little Owl’s First Day
Debi Gliori and Alison Brown
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Leaving a parent to begin school or nursery for the very first time, particularly when a younger sibling is still at home, can be a bit bothersome for little ones and so it is for Little Owl.

We first met the delightful character when a new sibling arrived and now he’s facing his first day at school.

When he wakes up on the big day, he isn’t feeling full of excitement as his Mummy Owl anticipates; instead the little fellow doesn’t even want to get out of bed. “I want a small day. I want to stay at home with you and Baby Owl,” he tells her.

After a lot of cajoling, they’re all ready to sally forth but then Little Owl is reluctant to pick up his new owlbag. Eventually, with Little Owl calling the tune, he sets off pushing his baby in the pram while Mummy carries his bag.

At the school door Miss Oopik is ready with a welcoming greeting; and reassuring farewell’s over, Little Owl is gently encouraged to try his wing at painting.

His picture is Mummy and Baby Owl moonbound in a rocket, and they seem to occupy his every thought for a considerable part of the morning until snack time is announced. And then it looks as though Little Owl might just have found a friend as he and Tiny Owl share the contents of their owlbags with one another.

The rest of the session seems to pass in a flash before Miss Oopik calls them all together for a story.

Soon, who should be waiting outside but Mummy and Baby Owl; but Little Owl is much too sleepy to tell them all about how he spent his time.

Debi Gliori’s gently humorous tale is a real situation soother that will embrace a first timer like a warm comfort blanket, especially since it’s woven together with Alison Brown’s scenes of adorable strigine characters small and not so small.

This is the Way We Go to School
illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang
Nosy Crow

Ideal for little ones about to start, or already at nursery or playschool, is this board book version of a favourite song, complete with sliders. With these your child can help the little tigers in the early morning to get out of bed; eat their breakfast, brush their teeth

and walk to school, where they smilingly wave a farewell to their parents before rushing inside to join their friends.
In addition to the sliders that facilitate getting up, teeth brushing and waving, there’s a wheel to turn that brings into view a host of other animals all hurrying schoolwards.

Both the tigers’ home, and the journey to school spreads have plenty of interesting details for little humans to spot and discuss.

Inside the front cover, is a QR code to scan onto a phone or tablet and download that provides a sing along version of the song.

Super Pooper and Whizz Kid Potty Power / CREATURE vs. TEACHER

Super Pooper and Whizz Kid Potty Power
Eunice Moyle and Sabrina Moyle
Abrams Appleseed

My partner and I spluttered our way through breakfast reading this, so much so that we almost wet ourselves laughing; it’s an absolutely priceless potty training board book.

Parents needn’t worry about that potty training regime; expert help is at hand courtesy of the Moyle sisters’ team Super Pooper (female) and Whizz Kid (male).

They’ve got the whole thing absolutely sorted; from # secret codes for pee and poo, bumble rumble or sprinkle tinkle alerts, the potty dash and pants clearance …

through waiting time (can be tedious),

to the final result. Phew! What relief!

Adult pleasing superheroes pretty much guaranteed and the reward – ‘BIG BOY AND BIG GIRL UNDERPANTS!
Then all that’s left is that vitally important hygiene routine …

If this doesn’t get your little ones weeing and pooping in the right place then I’ll eat my errr? – hat!

CREATURE vs. TEACHER
T.Nat Fuller and Alex Eben Meyer
Abrams Appleseed

Creature (of large friendly Frankenstein appearance) and teacher (a white-coated boffin-looking kind of person) are in totally different moods. Creature feels playful while teacher’s head is full of equations, formulae and is often completely immersed in a book.

The challenge is, can creature ‘s loopy kite flying,

dance moves, spin turns

and bum wiggling efforts have the desired effect of getting teacher to lighten up and join the fun.

Fuller’s paired rhyming words accompanied by Meyer’s outstandingly bright comic-strip graphics make for a great groovy fun book that’s bound to engage and delight .