Mind Your Manners, Dinosaurs! / One Little Bug

These are two recent board books from Little Tiger – thanks to the publisher for sending them for review.

Mind Your Manners, Dinosaurs!
Danielle McLean and Gareth Williams

A fun book with cutaway pages that introduces toddlers to some basic table manners as one by one five little dinosaurs assemble around the table for their dinner. On the recto of each, one of the five dinos is introduced and beneath a flap, which is an integral part of the illustration, is a sentence that moves the action forward. Turn over and on the verso that same dinosaur is now seated and showing how to ask politely for something, while on the recto we meet dinosaur number two. This same pattern continues until all five little dinosaurs are sitting ready to eat and Mother Dinosaur reminds them all of a few additional basic manners and wishes them ‘Bon Apétit’.

Cleverly constructed, cheerily illustrated and with a simple upbeat text that praises the little ones appropriately, this offers interactive learning for the very young.

One Little Bug
Becky Davies and Jacob Souva

This lift-the-flap board book offers a good way to introduce very young children to minibeasts, along with of course, seeing the real things in the wild. Little ones will discover the best places to look for bugs and how to collect some for observation. There’s information about the amazing homes some bugs construct, for instance, black garden ants build nests with different chambers for different purposes, as well as a look at how humans can build a bug hotel – a safe insect habitat to be used for living or hibernation purposes. Readers also find out about the abilities of some of our back garden dwellers: did you know for example that a cockroach is able to live without a head for up to a week and also survive under water for more than half an hour?

There’s plenty to explore on every spread as a lot of additional information is hidden beneath the flaps and adults will need to help them digest some of the text, so this is definitely not a book to hurry through.
Altogether a beautiful introduction both visual and verbal, to the natural world.

More Board Book Fun

These are recent board books from Gecko Press and Nosy Crow – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

Lionel Eats All By Himself
Lionel Poops
Éric Veillé

Lionel is a lively little lion and in the first story he’s endeavouring to become an independent eater cheered on by a paternal voice as he consumes his peas, his pumpkin, a slice of cake, a banana and some kind of pudding, using either his paws or a spoon. After each food, although most of it has gone into Lionel’s mouth some has splattered onto his mane making it increasingly blobby 

until it’s almost entirely covered. Then after a hearty roaring burp that sends the blobs on his mane flying every which way, the little creature makes it known he wants to get down and as he walks away from his high chair we see a trail of food.
Doubtless little humans will enjoy seeing Lionel’s increasingly messy mane as he receives repeated praise for his eating.

In the second book Lionel is trying to get to grips with pooping in the appropriate place but as he bounces on his trampoline the urge comes upon him and he contemplates dumping elsewhere: on some passing cows, a pair of wild cats, tennis balls, a couple of polar bears, a bus, even the Eiffel Tower and the sun. However with each passing possibility he receives a loud ‘NO, LIONEL, NO!’ aside and it’s that which causes him to seek another possible place on which to poop. Eventually our infant lion bounces right onto his potty and there, not only does he drop his pile of poo but he also has a wee – hurrah! A rousing cheer comes from all the animals and landmarks Lionel very nearly pooped upon. 

Veilllé’s vibrant scenes of the mischievous Lionel in combination with the simple texts with their repeat refrains will delight young humans and will surely make adults laugh too.

Who’s Hiding?
Satoru Onishi

Those who play the Who’s Hiding? game with this book will meet eighteen different animals. For each of the double spreads Onishi uses alternately white or a brightly coloured background. On each of the coloured spreads readers are asked to work out the answer to the titular question with the missing animal(s) merging with the background, although the black and white facial features – eyes, nose and mouth – are still visible.
After the first, which introduces the named characters, on all the spreads with white backgrounds, a creature (or more than one) is in turn, crying, 

angry, with horns, facing backwards, sleeping, facing backwards (the answer is different this time). Finally out go the lights: this spread is black save for eighteen pairs of eyes and the question is “Who’s who?’
An engaging and entertaining alternative to the usual seek-and-find books through which little ones can sharpen their observation skills, for attention to detail is vital and memory is also important. Why does zebra appear to be suffering from the grumps on every spread, one wonders. Is that its normal nature or has something upset this particular animal?

National Trust: Big Outdoors for Little Explorers: Woods
Anne-Kathrin Behl
Nosy Crow

Young children will meet a multitude of creatures in the woodland habitat visited in this book. There’s a woodpecker that creates a loud tap, tap sound as it pecks at the tree trunk with its sharp beak (the slider really demonstrates this well), while among the trees lurks a fallow deer and a hedgehog scuttles by. Minibeasts aplenty are there too – munching caterpillars, ladybirds and a beautiful blue butterfly. Turn the page and a couple of moles have popped up from their tunnels and rabbits hop hither and thither.

Night has come on the final spread bringing out some foxes from their dens and owls are a hunting.

A lovely introduction to some of the fauna, and indeed flora, of a wood.

Board Book World

Who’s Tickling Tilly?
Rob Jones
Pavilion Children’s Books

Following on from a search for Brian’s Bottom, Rob Jones’ second concertina fold-out book features some prehistoric creatures, one very lengthy one in particular.

In the forest Tilly dinosaur is being tickled, but who is the tickler and where can they be? It’s certainly making her laugh but her enormously long body makes discovering the perpetrator of those fidgetty-inducing feelings very tricky. It’s not Valerie – she’s busy with her cup of tea; Terry is otherwise engaged enjoying his book beside the volcano; 

Al (in the swamp) has already had his fill; Steve, hidden in the long grass can’t help; but is there anything in the cave that could be the culprit? A-ha! Lo and behold something has emerged there and is eager to say hello to very long Tilly. 

Like many stories, there are two sides to this one: the first has the questions and answers text concerning the hunt for the tickler; opening it the opposite way reveals the nocturnal happenings: 

Tilly busy with her new arrivals while her prehistoric pals enjoy either some play or slumber blissfully under the stars.

Unfolding to a whole two metres of double-sided fun, the combination of playful visual storytelling and clever design add up to a hugely enjoyable experience for the very young and those who share it with them.

Animal Families: River
Jane Ormes
Nosy Crow

Young children are introduced to four animal families whose habitat is the river and its environs in this beautifully illustrated board book. There’s a drake, a hen and their ducklings, the father otter – a boar, a mummy – a sow and their offspring – pups. My favourites, the king and queen dragonfly and their nymphs come next 

and finally the father swan, called a cob, the mother, a pen and their four cygnets. The final double fold-out reveals all four families – a paddling of ducks, a flight of dragonflies, a raft of otters and a bevy of swans.

Lots of new vocabulary learning potential, counting opportunities and lift-the-flap fun in this chunky book to share at home or in a nursery setting. Adults especially will appreciate all the lovely textures and patterns in Jane Ormes’ illustrations.

Rosa Explores Life Cycles
Jessica Spanyol
Child’s Play

Using the dialogue between Rosa and her friends, this book, which is part of a new STEM series for the very young, is both fun and educative. The four children, Rosa, Jiyoon, Noah and Joshua are excited to discover frogspawn in their pond. They go on to learn about metamorphosis by careful observations of the growth and changes the frogspawn undergoes until they have some baby frogs. So excited are they that Joshua’s suggestions that they create another pond in the hope that other frogs will lay their eggs therein is enthusiastically received and the friends set to work right away. The four have clearly already absorbed a fair amount of basic information and are able to explain what they know and to make connections.

Jessica Spanyol’s signature style art – bold, bright colours, exciting images and diverse characters – work well to illustrate the concepts.

Almost all nurseries and foundation stage educators include change and life-cycles as part of the curriculum and this little book is definitely one to add to any collection for young children.

Ocean
Sarah Dellow
Child’s Play

Little ones will enjoy exploring the wealth of patterns Sarah Dellow has created with spots, stripes, hexagons, ovals and more as they discover the seven named ocean creatures in this board book with its peep-through die cut pages and exciting images. This little book offers lots of potential for language development and playful experimenting with creative materials.

What Can You See? In Space
Maria Perera and Kate Ware
Little Tiger

Making use of cut out pages with different shaped holes cleverly positioned, illustrator Maria Perera gradually reveals various basic space facts starting when a rocket blasts off skywards, launched by people in Mission Control Centre. Young children are introduced to the astronauts and discover what it’s like to be inside a spacecraft; learn a little about the moon and what can be seen on and from its surface. There’s a look at the solar system, a spread about the sun and nebulas, and the final one shows the Milky Way and mentions other galaxies too. With the factual text supplied by Kate Ware, this sturdily built space themed board book is a good starting point for the very youngest.

Fish, Llamas and a Visit to the Zoo

1 2 3 Fish in the Sea
Luna Parks, illustrated by Gareth Lucas
Little Tiger

There’s tactile fun along with the counting and number recognition between the covers of this brightly coloured, textured, rhyming board book. We start with one three coloured little fishy swimming in the ocean, that one meets a speedy friend, and then another. The three explore inside a cave where they meet fishy number four, followed soon after as they dash around by fishy number 5. But then as they swim 5 abreast a scary shark gives chase. Time to hide little fishes …

Be Calmer, Llama!
Rosamund Lloyd and Gareth Lucas
Little Tiger

In her rhyming, counting down narrative, Rosamund Lloyd starts with five llamas frenetically rushing around. They decide that it’s time to slow down for that way lies more greater happiness so they hope. Each one finds a different way to become calmer: the first does so by means of water, the next gives himself a bit of self-love, leaving three giddy creatures. A wise one does some relaxing exercises, leaving two females; one undertakes some deep exhalations and as the last is anticipating some solo relaxation, back bounce the others. I wonder what happens …
Counting fun set against Gareth Lucas’ five calm-inducing natural backgrounds, each bursting with wildlife that adults and toddlers can talk about together, in addition to trying out some of the llamas’ ways to slow down.

Not really a board book but offering a wealth of language possibilities is

Lola Loves Animals
Imapla
minedition

In this wordless picture book illustrated with brightly coloured digital art, readers join young Lola and her mum on a trip to the zoo. Its clever concertina construction shows the red path they take against a white background on the walk to the zoo and as Lola enjoys her encounters with in turn an elephant, a gorilla, a moose, giraffes and a hippo. (I love the changing emotions on the faces of the characters). Her toy duck meanwhile enjoys making a new friend. 

During this time the weather has changed from sunny to rainy, and as they head homewards, it’s dark.

At the end is a lift the flap door; this gives readers entry to the second part of Lola’s adventure on the other side of the page. Here, a black background shows her dream of flying through the air and having an exciting adventure with the animals she met at the zoo.

The clever accordion fold means that the book stands up easily enabling it to act as a backdrop for a child’s imaginative play (thus fulfilling the cover boast: ‘Book & Playset in one!’) There’s a wealth of storytelling potential between the covers of this clever book, especially if you add some small world characters and objects.

Pops / Make Tracks: Trucks

Pops
Gavin Bishop
Gecko Press

With a straightforward, minimal text and close up illustrations, Gavin Bishop zooms right in to the important elements of an activity while highlighting too, the close bond between a child and grandfather (Pops). We see clasped hands – one large one small, as they meet; a single boot and two small bare feet walking, and so on as the two gather together the essentials (some from the garden), for making their sandwiches – one each. They then tell stories to one another and fall asleep side by side. The love they share is palpable in such actions as the tender manner in which Pops extends a supportive hand just in case the little child drops the egg.

Interestingly we are never shown the whole body of either person as they engage in life’s simple pleasures made all the more enjoyable by their close connection. Full of warmth, this is a lovely book for a grandfather to share with a very young child and a good starting point for conversations about special times shared with individual’s own grandparents.

Make Tracks: Trucks
Johnny Dyrander
Nosy Crow

This is a real treat for truck loving young children. In addition to the cover, it introduces five kinds of truck: a forklift, a lorry, a car transporter,

a ‘monster’ truck and a dustbin lorry. The parts of each one are clearly labelled in a large illustration on the verso beneath a two sentence introduction. On each recto is a more detailed scene around which little fingers can manipulate the counter bearing a tiny illustration matching the one opposite. So, for instance in response to ‘Can you drive this forklift around the warehouse?’ children can follow the instruction “Drive up and down the aisles in straight lines.’ and in so doing develop their fine motor skills. On this particular spread there’s also the question “How many lorries are waiting to be loaded?’

Each of the other spreads is equally interactive with a simple counting activity and another question set into the scene. Bright and alluring with the potential for hours of fun learning, what more can one ask from a non fiction board book?

You Can Be A Supercat / Vehicles

You Can Be A Supercat
Rosamund Lloyd and Chris Dickason
Little Tiger

Here’s a rhyming narrative that, together with fun feline scenes, invites little ones to participate in some role play. I’m sure small human would-be superheroes will love the opportunity to emulate wonder kitty Supercat as she whizzes around smiling at everyone and sporting her snazzy underpants, cloak and funky purple mask (there’s even one of those tucked inside the front cover for the little reader to wear) and performing acts of kindness as she goes. She’s always ready to offer help or invite a lonely person she spies to play with her, and despite not having lots of toys Supercat is more than willing to share those she has.

When it comes to a vocal rendition, this wonder kitty will sing with gusto and assuredly bring on a laugh as she performs with her feline flair. What youngster would want to turn down the chance to be a Supercat just like her; for sure it’ll make those who seize the opportunity feel good inside.

Vehicles
OKIDOKID, illustrated by Liuna Viradi
Little Tiger

This lift-the-flap book uses all kinds of means of getting around to present and explore five pairs of opposites. Thus a tricycle goes slow whereas a train moves fast; a submarine dives down low but a hot air balloon drifts high up in the sky; as she moves a pedal cyclist is quiet, on the other hand a motorcyclist’s vehicle is noisy.

There’s a small yacht sailing on the waves and there’s also a big steamboat and finally, the pink van is empty but the larger van has a full load. The book becomes interactive when little ones open the flap on each recto but adults can instigate many more interactions. For instance they might ask a child, “where do you think the train is going to?”; “how many passengers can you count?” and so on – there are numerous possibilities herein that are presented in Liuna Viradi’s bold, bright stylised illustrations

Tickle!, Roar and Embrace Nature with Board Books

Tickle!
Amelia Hepworth and Jorge Martín
Little Tiger

Little ones will need their fingers at the ready to help the creatures in this lift-the-flap board book wherein Moose has set himself up as the cookie to crack in a tickling contest. An assortment of animals – teams and individuals – try their luck at making the antlered animal laugh using their paws, (team Beaver), an array of tail feathers – that’s the proud peacock, then in turn, gorilla, octopus with an abundance of tickling potential

and finally, in the nick of time, a small child. Now maybe he can find Moose’s weak spot …
There’s so much to enjoy in this story told through Jorge Martįn’s droll visuals, the humorous speech bubbles, the sign (watch carefully what happens to that as the contest proceeds) and the surprise sound hidden beneath the final flap. A hoot from start to finish this.

Look, it’s ROAR ROAR Lion
Camilla Reid and Clare Youngs
Nosy Crow

This is the first in a fun-filled lift-the-flap board book series with a repeat pattern narrative written by Camilla Reid and striking collage illustrations, each with a decorative foil highlight element, by Clare Youngs. In turn Camilla introduces Clip Clop Zebra, Ooo Ooo Monkey,

Munch Munch Hippo and the titular Lion. Hidden behind four of the five felt flaps are mini beasts of which the text asks, ‘But can you see the … ?’ while the final spread recaps the creatures’ sounds and then asks ‘But what do YOU say?’ and when the flap is lowered a surprise, shiny mirror is revealed into which tinies will love to make their very own sound.
Interactive fun and offering just the kind of experiences to help develop that all important books are fun message in the very youngest.

100 First Nature Words
Edward Underwood
Nosy Crow

In the same series as 100 First Words and 100 First Words: City, this large format board book has two large flaps to explore on each double spread.The first has a Garden theme, the second shows Seaside themed objects large and small; in the third little ones visit the Countryside,

the fourth has a Forest setting. Next comes a Jungle spread, followed by one rather oddly entitled ‘Cold’ and the final pages are devoted to the Seasons, two per page.
Tinies will certainly have fun looking at each one, naming all the items in Edward Underwood’s bold, bright pictures, revealing the characters – human, animal or plant – hidden behind the shaped flaps. Highly engaging, lots of fun and with great learning potential, this is a super book for developing vocabulary and getting little ones talking about the natural world.

I Love Me! / We Are the Rainbow!

I Love Me!
Marvyn Harrison and Diane Ewen
Macmillan Children’s Books

Narrated by two small children, this enormously empowering book of positive affirmations came about as a result of the author Marvyn’s own child-rearing experience.

Starting on a Monday, it takes us through the week giving examples to back up the powerful statement. So, Monday’s declaration, ‘I am brave’ is demonstrated by using the big slide, superhero play, facing up to monsters and showing courage in new situations.

Tuesday is brain boosting day with showing one’s skill at maths, reading, dressing and potion brewing. And so it continues through the week as in turn the focus word is brave, kind, 

happy, loving and on Sunday, ‘We are beautiful!’ Those though aren’t the only uplifting statements the book contains, as is revealed beneath the fold-out page that comes before the author’s notes for parents and carers.

This book, with Diane Ewen’s bold, eye-catching mixed media illustrations of the affirmations in practice might have originated with black parents/carers and their offspring in mind, but the powerful feelings of self-worth it will engender in children are crucial to developing confidence in every single youngster no matter who they are, making it an important book for all family and classroom collections.

We Are the Rainbow!
Claire Winslow and Riley Samels
Sunbird Books

One colour at a time, this lovely little rainbow of a board book explores the LGBTQIA+ flag, its symbolism and history. The first eight spreads each use a colour to highlight a particular attribute: purple is for spirit, a reminder to listen to your heart, you are unique. Blue is for harmony, ‘Together our voices can change the world.’ Yellow is sunlight – ‘Happiness grows when you let your light shine.’ These important heartfelt messages are for everyone so the next colour, brown, is for inclusivity and this is followed by black for diversity.

Having presented each of the colours of the rainbow plus black and brown, 

we see a joyful rainbow spread: ‘The rainbow is for PRIDE. Pride means being glad to be who you are’. The final spread is devoted to a short history of how the Pride flag developed since it was first created in 1973.

Yes, this is a board book but its messages of acceptance, empathy, kindness, inclusivity and celebrating who you are, are vital for everyone; it can easily be used with older children, perhaps in a circle time or assembly.

A Trio of Board Books

Sophie has Lunch
Sophie Goes to Sleep

Templar Publishing

Designed to foster routines that create happy mealtimes and bedtimes, these two board books feature a giraffe toy from France, ‘Sophie la girafe’.

In the first it’s 12.30pm – time for the little giraffe to have her lunch. Before that though, as per the instructions, she should wash her hooves (the text says, “Before we eat, we should wash our hands.’) Then having done so and helped set the table, we see what foods are on offer – it’s good that there are several vegetables and Sophie tries cucumber for the very first time. Seemingly she enjoyed her first course for her plate is almost empty and she’s ready to choose something sweet and healthy from the fridge.
In addition to the simple main, always upbeat narrative, each double spread has a helpful tip for adult sharers.

In the second book Sophie is almost ready for bed. But first she should tidy away her toys, enjoy a splishy splashy bath, brush her teeth – as per the instructions, then put on her pyjamas. Clever Sophie! She appears to have done this by herself and once in bed, it’s time for a bedtime story and a cuddle before she snuggles right down under her favourite blanket and light dimmed, drifts off to sleep.
With brightly illustrated, textured pages, practical tips from Lizzie Noble and simple home-related language, there’s lots of learning potential for little ones here.

Bizzy Bear My First Memory Game : Animals
Benji Davies and Camilla Reid
Nosy Crow

There’s an abundance of animals large and small to be discovered in the four settings – the farm, the zoo, beneath the sea and in the park – that Benji Davies illustrates in his busy scenes for this large format board book. At each location, Bizzy Bear has a different role: he brings food for the farm animals, acts as ranger driving around visitors to the zoo, is at the helm of a submarine under the sea and enjoys a cycle around the park.

There are three memory games for each location: hide and seek wherein all the sliders start closed and then a little hand should open them one at a time and search in the full page scene opposite for the creature revealed beneath each slider. Matching pairs is game two where memorising the animals’ positions beneath the sliders is required

and the third is a search and find game with three questions, the answers to which are found in the relevant large picture.

With a wealth of fun language possibilities, memory building and more (depending on the age of the child) this is recommended for family enjoyment especially, though I’m sure imaginative early years practitioners can also think of ways to share it with small groups.

Natural History Board Books

Who’s Hiding: In the Garden?
Pintachan and Amelia Hepworth
Little Tiger

Having lost her five babies, Mummy Snail needs help to find them. First she asks Frog and thanks to him, locates the first of her missing offspring. Following Mouse’s suggestion, she discovers baby number two and Puppy’s advice enables her to find the third. With two still in hiding along comes Butterfly as she approaches the strawberry plant. You can guess what’s beneath one of the juicy fruits … and that leaves just one. Now where can it be? …
With flaps for little fingers to manipulate in Pintachan’s bold, bright cut away spreads of the search, a simple narrative with speech bubbles and sounds coming from the baby snails to join in with, Amelia Hepworth’s countdown narrative provides plenty to engage little ones who participate in Mummy Snail’s hunt.

One Little Seed
Becky Davies and Charlotte Pepper
Little Tiger

It never ceases to amaze this adult reviewer how from one tiny seed, a lovely flower can grow, often indeed many, many beautiful flowers. It all depends on what kind of seed whether you get a single bloom or a multitude all blooming on one plant and we see both examples in Charlotte Pepper’s bright, alluring illustrations.
In her text for this biggish board book, Becky Davies’s engaging narrative certainly encourages young children to go outdoors with an adult, involve themselves in nature and use all their senses to investigate the flora, (along with the fauna and natural environment in general) around them,

preferably with the book to hand.
There’s a spread with information about how to grow your own flower from seed, and/or a bulb; another showing some of the delicious fruits and vegetables flowering plants produce; we visit a community garden and finally are reminded of the cycle of life in which every one of us, young and not so young can play a part. With a wealth of flaps to explore – several per spread – with further information – visual and verbal – beneath each, this book will one hopes, motivate little ones to be outdoor explorers.

The Tree Book
Hannah Alice
Nosy Crow

Illustrated by Hannah Alice, this large format book was produced in consultation with Simon Toomer, recently appointed Curator of Living Collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The sturdy, see-through pages contain a considerable amount of information written in a young child-friendly style. Interesting, fun and interactive, it introduces users to the inner workings of a tree.
The cut out, see-through pages allow you to ‘look inside’ each part of the tree – roots, trunk, branches and leaves – and see how it functions and grows. Each page presents a different tree-related topic such as new leaves, flowers and pollen, leaves and photosynthesis,

fruits and seeds, mighty minibeasts, underground roots of different types of trees.
The written narrative, with corresponding stylised but clear pictures, takes us through the four seasons and concludes with a look at the importance of caring for and perhaps planting new trees. Without these wonderful plants, none of us would have fresh oxygen to breath.
Walking in a place that has lots of trees is one of my favourite things to do, and I’d certainly suggest it’s never too early to start fostering a love of trees in children; this book could be a good place to start.

All Around Bustletown: Nighttime

All Around Bustletown: Nighttime
Rotraut Susanne Berner
Prestel

The award-winning creator of the seasonal Bustletown series of large format picture books shows us the town’s nocturnal happenings across an hour in this latest offering.

Look very closely – that’s always what you need to do to get the most from each spread – and you’ll see on the opening pages that it’s ten o’clock on a kitchen clock in a multi-generational residence. There’s still a fair bit of activity in and around the building: a boy (Joshua) is spending the night under canvas and reading by torchlight while his father (presumably) points to his wristwatch.
A couple (Cara and John) are taking a stroll – we learn the names from the back cover – and a cyclist, Frank rides past, sans light.
If we follow these characters, stories unfold. As Frank passes a petrol station with a police car being filled at the pump, one of the officers notices the lack of lights on his bike

and Tony chases after and eventually apprehends him several minutes later. I love the sleepover on the same spread – how many of the literary pictures do you recognise exhibited in the cultural centre?

Turn over and Frank is now pushing his bike, the strollers sit on a bench watching as the police deal with an attempted break-in at the dentist’s above the bookshop and a dog takes Cara’s hat.
On the penultimate spread we see the police have now caught the burglar, and the dog (plus hat) are hotly pursued by a man. In the final scene said hat is once again spied by Cara; Frank chains up his cycle outside a food outlet in front of which the police car is passing.
If you turn back to the beginning, you might decide to follow the man in black seen sitting in the police car in the final scene. Indeed it’s possible to trace all the recurring characters and Berner poses several questions on the back cover that will likely send you back for another read.

With the same mixture of a look-and-find and chances to invent your own stories, there’s hours of fun to be found in this totally immersive, cleverly created book.

A Quartet of Board Books

Bumblebee Grumblebee
David Elliot
Gecko Press

Brilliantly playful is David Elliot’s sequence of rhyming scenarios. We see, among others, an elephant donning dance gear, hence elephant balletphant; there’s a rhinoceros dropping a yummy ice cream cone and becoming crynocerus; pelican rushing to put its botty on a potty – pelican smellican; and when the bumblebee breaks its pull-along toy it becomes grumblebee. Last of all comes turtle – now what could the grinning creature be about to do …
This is just the kind of book to encourage very young children to delight in hearing and creating language and adult sharers will have fun as they read it aloud be that at home or in an early years setting.

How To Say Hello
Sophie Beer
Little Tiger

At the start of the pandemic people had to look for alternative ways to greet one another rather than with a hug or a kiss. Those are two of the ways illustrated in this board book; however some of the others – elbow bumping, smiling, fist bumping, waving would have been acceptable even before restrictions were lifted. How lovely it is to be able once again to give somebody a high five, a cuddle, to greet somebody with the offer of a snack, all of which Sophie Beer portrays in her latest inclusive book for adults to share with toddlers: there’s plenty of fun detail to enjoy in each inviting spread, while so doing.

Sing A Song Of Kindness
Becky Davies and Ciara Ni Dhuinn
Little Tiger

‘Sing a song of kindness, / a pocket full of joy. / Share a slice of friendship /with every girl and boy.’ That’s the first verse of the title song in this board book for which Becky Davies has adapted the words of ten favourite nursery rhymes and songs so that each one offers ideas of friendship, kindness, consideration or compassion.
Each one is illustrated by Ciara Ni Dhuinn who uses images of plants and animals to create gorgeous scenes that offer adult sharers and their little ones plenty to pause and talk about as they sing their way through this book, which is best kept until children are familiar with the originals.

Thank You, Little Rabbit
illustrated by Michelle Carlslund
Happy Yak

It looks as though Little Rabbit is going to have a busy day. As she wanders in the woods she notices her friend Little Squirrel is distressed. He’s hungry and unable to find food but Little Rabbit directs him to search in just the right place (little ones can assist by pulling the ribbon tab) to find a rich source of nuts. She also comes to the aid of Mama Goose and her little ones; they’re lost on their way to warmer climes for the winter. Little Frog has become separated from his friends and Little Rabbit offers a comforting hug and points them out. The result of all that helping is a lot of happy friends and a Little Rabbit who receives a big hug from a parent rabbit.

Little humans should certainly feel part of the action as they manipulate the tabs to reveal the outcomes of Little Rabbit’s helpfulness depicted in Michelle Carlslund’s empathetic illustrations as the story is read aloud.

Mole’s Spectacles / My Garden / Feeling Hungry

Mole’s Spectacles
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Macmillan Children’s Books

We’re back in Acorn Wood and Mole’s spectacles have gone missing. Wherever can they be? He hunts high and low in his house but they’re not in the cupboard, nor in his writing desk. 

They’re definitely not under the floor though there are some visitors down there. Off he goes to check the garden but they aren’t in the pond; nor did he leave them in Weasel’s sweet shop. After a day spent searching Mole’s in need of a comforting hot cuppa. I wonder what he’ll discover in his teapot …

Axel Scheffler adds lots of fun details to Julia Donaldson’s simple rhyming text in their latest lift-the-flap story. Little ones will enjoy helping Mole in his search and talking with an adult about the various parts of his underground home and what they can see in each.

My Garden
illustrated by Marijke Buurlage
Happy Yak

This addition to the My World in 100 words series presents small children and adults exploring the garden through the seasons. In spring lots of things are bursting into flower, it’s a good time for some planting; there’s plenty of things to discover beside the pond too and lots of tools will be needed for doing the gardening. Come summer, the sunflowers have grown tall and it’s so warm that it’s good to cool down under the hose or with a long drink. Up high, everything is in bloom and the bees and butterflies are busy as well as the humans who are planting. Which of the minibeasts will the latter come upon as they work and play? It’s decidedly chillier in the autumn and the wind brings the leaves tumbling down. Time for reaping the bounty of all that planting – there’s a wealth of veggies waiting to be picked or pulled. Winter has just one spread – a snowy one – so everybody is wrapped up warmly.

In addition to the items named in each scene, some of the spreads also have ‘an action word’ and a ‘feeling word’, for instance in autumn a child is ‘kicking’ leaves and an adult and dog are wrapped up because they feel ‘chilly’. 

There’s certainly plenty to explore and talk about with toddlers in Marijke Buurlage’s bright seasonal scenes.

Feeling Hungry
Andrea Pinnington and Caz Buckingham
Fine Feather Press

With a rhyming text and appealing photographic images of a series of animals in natural surroundings, this board book explores choices of food, getting ready for a meal – washing hands, helping lay the table, good table manners, being prepared to try new foods and enjoying a family meal, each presented alluringly for little humans.

The narrative reads aloud well and has a gentle humour: ‘try not to guzzle / or eat with a slurp, / or finish your meals / with a really big burp!’ is one bit of advice.

Adding to the fun for young children is the touch-and-feel element on each spread. Adults whose small child finds mealtimes challenging might well find this a helpful book to share; however there’s plenty of language development potential even if this isn’t the case.

Toddler Take-Along: Nature / Hello, Bee / Jeppo Finds His Friends

It’s never too early to start introducing little ones to the delights of nature and the first two books from Little Tiger should help do just that. Thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

Toddler Take-Along: Nature
Ana Zaja Petrak and Becky Davies

Bold images on bright backgrounds with peep through die-cuts and a simple question per spread, invite toddlers to look all around and with the help of the labels, name what they see, be it on the ground, up in the sky, or on and around the pond.
As suggested in the title, a handy carrying handle makes this one ideal for taking out on walks.

Also bursting with mini beasts is:

Hello, Bee
Sophie Ledesma

A buzzy bee leads the way through the pages of this touchy-feely, lift the flap book wherein we meet small creatures that fly, crawl, slither and walk; there’s an odd surprise too. Sophie Ledesma’s multicoloured images are gently humorous yet recognisable, and in combination with the brief chatty text and hidden animals element and the final ‘What did you spot on the way?’ spread showing an assortment of natural objects that were passed on bee’s flight, make for an interactive experience that little humans will enjoy sharing with an adult or perhaps an older sibling.

Another interactive board book is:

Jeppo Finds His Friends
Ingela P Arrhenius
Walker Books

Tiger Jeppo can’t wait to meet up with all his friends but although he soon finds Larry Lamb and Flora Fox, of Odd the owl there’s no sign. So off the others go to look for him. After several misidentifications, disappointed, they’re on the point of giving up but there’s one last place to check. Perhaps they might be lucky this time …
Toddlers will have fun lifting the various flaps as they join in the search for Odd the owl in Ingela Arrhenius’ bold, bright playful spreads.

Board Books Small and Not So Small

Hello Frog
Sophie Ledesma and Isabel Otter
Caterpillar Books

Having greeted Frog as he sets out through the jungle, toddlers can then join him in saying ‘hello’ to in turn, Hummingbird, Snake, Monkey and Moth on subsequent spreads, as well as other creatures that have hidden themselves away behind flaps shaped as lily pads, flowers, leaves and fruit.
Then, come nightfall, as the little amphibian closes his eyes after an eventful day, it’s time to bid “Goodnight Frog” and, prompted by the question on the final spread, turn back to the beginning and search for the twelve labelled items.
With Sophie Ledesma’s bold, bright, patterned illustrations, lots of interactive features and a simple repetitive text, this is a board book little ones will want to return to over and over.

Where’s Mr Puffin?
Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

In her bold bright scenes, the illustrator Ingela P Arrhenius introduces toddlers to in turn, a kingfisher, a blackbird, a swan and a puffin each of which is all but completely hidden behind a felt flap in this addition to the super hide-and-seek series published in collaboration with the National Trust. They’ll also meet a fish, a buzzy bee, a frog and a gull before the final ‘And where are you?’ spread whereon a mirror is revealed when the yacht sail is flipped down.

When You’re Fast Asleep
Peter Arrhenius and Ingela Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

Subtitled “Who Works At Night-Time’ this large format board book is a collaboration between team Arrhenius. With a largely urban setting, Ingela’s first six lively scenes show a busy bakery kitchen with a team of people hard at work making bread and biscuits; fishing boats setting out to sea;

a guard on the night shift of an art gallery; a train driver whose train is just emerging from beneath a bridge in the moonlight, a hospital doctor doing the ward rounds; a street deserted save for the half dozen hard-hatted men and women mending the road. FInally, as a new day begins the same street shows the night workers leaving their places of work and some other people whose days are just beginning while in his rhyming narrative, author Peter Arrhenius asks youngsters to “Remember all the special things the night workers have done.’

A fun, gently educational book to share just before little ones snuggle down at bedtime.

100 First Words / Britannica’s 150 First Words

100 First Words
Lauren Crisp and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books an imprint of Little Tiger
Britannica’s 150 First Words
Claire Laties Davis and Kasia Dudziuk
Britannica Books

It’s interesting to look at the different approaches taken in these two recently published board books, the first being a compact book with a different theme per spread. It is easily held by small hands and has animal characters ‘At Home’, having fun with ‘Toys and Games’; there are ‘Colours’, ‘Pets’, we see what’s ‘At the park’, explore ‘Food’, ‘Clothes’, ‘Parts of the Body’, spend some time ‘On the Farm’, watch ‘Things That Go’, see animals ‘In the Wild’ and finally it’s ‘Bedtime’.
Single words label all the items depicted illustrated on Thomas Elliott’s brightly coloured spreads.

The second is a large format compilation that goes beyond the 150 named items by means of a narrative that takes little ones through a day from wake-up time to bedtime as they follow nine children from around the world through their daily routines. We wake up with John and his family; join Padma and her mum at breakfast time; meet Camille and Tong as they play; go out and about with Hugo in his pushchair, destination the park where he joins the other children and their adult carers. Then poor Ali takes a tumble but happily Dad is there to come to his aid before the two walk home.
By now it’s time to cook dinner and we watch Matias and Dad in the kitchen, Dad at the stove cooking the family meal they all share. Bathtime is spent with Tasha and finally, we pay a visit to Anna at bedtime.
This one is compiled by Claire Davies, a speech-language pathologist who used her knowledge of child development for the book in which she includes a search and find element: objects from the main scene along with a photo of the featured child are shown in a colour strip beneath each of Kasia Dudziuk’s thematic scenes.
Both books are useful for parents and carers but which would you choose, I wonder. 

I think the latter has more potential in the long run.

Information and More Board Book Style

Zoom: Building Site Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Susanna Rumiz
Zoom: Farm Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Aviel Basil
What on Earth Books

With their strategically placed die-cuts and cutaway pages, a final pop-up scene, a simple narrative and a wealth of relevant labelled objects, these are two additions to the Zoom series for toddlers.

In the first Maxie, clad in his safety gear, spends a day on the building site where the construction of a sky-scraper is under way. Little ones will see a wealth of machines that drill, dig, scoop, move materials, mix concrete, lift heavy items and get rid of unwanted debris.
Humorous moments occur when Maxie forgets to check all the pipe connections before turning in the water – oops! All ends satisfactorily though with a building ready for visitors.

In the Farm Adventure we join Bo as he drives his shiny red truck from his city home to the farm. Once there he is greeted by the animals and then he gets on with various tasks: he milks the cows, feeds the sheep, goats and alapacas, then gathers eggs from the hens – all before breakfast. Next he collects honey from the bees, harvests fruit and vegetables, and brings in the corn and wheat that he delivers to the barn. Phew! After all this it’s time for a snack before starting the peanut harvest. The mischievous duck that accompanies him will give little ones something to giggle over as will the fact that the goats escape from their field and have to be rounded up before Bo leaves.

Both books begin and end in the children’s own rooms and young listeners will realise that therein are many of the components of the imaginary adventures.

Race to the Rescue!
Georgina Deutsch and Olivier Latyk
Little Tiger Press

Emergency vehicles driven by animal crews take centre stage in this ‘flashing lights’ , rhyming board book. Toddlers will meet police mice chasing a robber; a hippo helicopter air rescue crew; Dog and his partner assist a swimmer in trouble out at sea, the Pandas in their ambulance rush to the aid of Danny Dog; and finally, a cat stuck in a tree is rescued by Fox and his fire engine team – all in a day’s work. Providing plenty to look at, Olivier Llatyk’s bright illustrations take toddlers right up close to the action for each event,

How It Works: The Body
Amelia Hepworth and David Semple
Little Tiger Press

With its cleverly layered die-cuts this look at the human body, both outside and inside, curated by Doctor Mouse, contains much more information than your average board book. Said mouse however doesn’t supply the main text: that’s provided by Amelia Hepworth; rather he provides additional facts mentioning such things as the sign for ‘hello’ on the Super Senses spread, explains the importance of practise in muscle memory, that the small intestine is something of a misnomer on account of its length and much more. Meanwhile the main text takes us through the various components of the body – muscles, organs and skeletal structure; and David Semple’s labelled illustrations show the details.

A nursery group or preschool child will find plenty to interest and talk about in this one.

The Mouse Before Christmas / Can’t Catch Santa!

Here are two festive books from Sunbird Books -thanks to the publisher for sending them for review

The Mouse Before Christmas
Tracey Turner and Jenny Lovlie
Sunbird Books

‘ ‘’Twas the night before Christmas, / when all through the house / Not a creature was stirring / … except for one mouse.’ So begins Tracey Turner’s mouse-themed tribute to Clement Clarke Moore wherein a tiny white mouse clad in a red fur-trimmed suit opens the action by giving a wink to readers and holds up a ‘ssh’-ing paw to his mouth before introducing his fellow mice all fast asleep. He then departs on his Christmas Eve delivery round in a small-scale sleigh, pulled by stag beetles portrayed in festive hues.

“On, Stiggy! On Twiggy! On, Scatter and Skitter! / Come, Snipper! Come, Skipper! Come Patter and Pitter!” he urges, guiding them down through the trees to a smooth landing in the snow instead of on a rooftop.
Then taking one of the sacks containing gifts for all, he heads for a house, leaving snowy mouse tracks (no boots for this Santa figure), entering via a crack in the wall and thence to a convenient mouse hole. Stockings are duly filled with Mouse toys and of course, lots of cheese as well as crackers. Then it’s back to the waiting sleigh, and with a flick of the reins, a squeak and a “Merry Christmas to all, / and to all a good night!” off he flies into the moonlit sky.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the original classic poem, this one with Jenny Lovlie’s mouse-centric setting complete with a cotton reel table, holding a candle, a thimble pot containing a decorated branch, mouse paperchains and a larger branch to which tiny stockings are affixed, is a delight. Cute and cosy but not overly so thanks to the wealth of humorous details, especially those Christmassy beetles.

Can’t Catch Santa!
Emily Cunningham and Steph Lew
Sunbird Books

It’s Christmas Eve, just the time to try and catch Santa: so says the canine narrator of this lift-the-flap board book. Santa however seems somewhat elusive as each seeming sighting of the jolly fellow turns out to be something altogether different – a bobble hat worn by a carol singer glimpsed through the window of the front door, it’s a snowman wearing the black wellies and so on. It’s not until several more spreads have been explored that Santa actually does make an appearance but when he does eventually do so, his would-be catcher isn’t quick enough to apprehend the jolly fellow. Still there’s always next year …

Slightly silly, but that’s all part of the fun that toddlers will enjoy, along with the festive spirit and the build-up.

Board Books for Christmas

Here are three festive board books from Little Tiger – thanks to the publisher for sending them for review

Nibbles Christmas
Emma Yarlett

Nibbles gets all jolly and festive in this romping, chomping seasonal countdown wherein he topples the row of 10 robots, sings along with the 9 red birds , counts sleeps left till the big day with the help of the 8 stars, bounces around with the 7 bunnies and so on, taking a quick bite whenever he gets the opportunity, till we reach 1 big box beautifully wrapped and labelled. I wonder what could be found inside … It will surely be a surprise.
Emma’s mischievous toothy creature is a delight whatever the time of year so youngsters will love to meet him sporting his Santa’s hat in this rhyming Christmassy counting book.
There’s more counting fun in

Five Christmas Friends
Danielle McLean and Rosalind Maroney

Little ones can meet Santa driving his sleigh above the rooftops (just the one of course), two playful snowmen friends, 3 elves busily making presents in the workshop, four singing robins and five flying reindeer touching down alongside a house all lit up with strings of lights in this die-cut and slider book. As they manipulate the sliders, tinies might like to join in with some of Danielle McLean’s words by “ho! ho!’-ing a greeting to Santa Claus, shivering along with the snowmen, tap tap with the elves, singing along with the robins and ‘knock knock knock’-ing at the door of Little Mouse’s house where the reindeer have stopped, all of which are shown in Rosalind Maroney’s bright, jolly scenes.

What Are Santa’s Elves Made Of?
Becky Davies illustrated by Louise Angelicas

For those toddlers who stop and wonder what Santa’s special little helpers are really made of, this board book has the answers.
Having shared the book and enjoyed the final surprise pop-out spread, grown ups might even try baking some gingerbread shapes and adorning them just like the jolly elves shown herein, with their outfits made of sweets. These could then be stored away in a tin till the big day and then the lid opened at teatime to the sound of those magical jingle bells mentioned in Becky Davies rhyming narrative, with everyone present making a Christmas wish.

Peek-a-boo and Counting Fun Board Book Style

Monsters Play … Peekaboo!
Monsters Play … Counting

Flavia Z. Drago
Walker Books

Flavia Drago introduces a host of mock-scary monsters in the lift-the-flap Peekaboo treat.
In order to play a game of peek-a-boo seven ghoulish creatures – a werewolf skeleton (of the handsome happy kind), a vampire, a medusa looking very modish, a blobby beast, a banshee and finally a wee ghostie take turns to hide behind a sheet, their identity being revealed when each flap in turn is lifted. Little ones will delight in joining in with the repeat ‘Eek-a-peek-a … – – ! who’s hiding under the sheet? and relish the opportunity to make lots of ‘eeek!’, hiss!,

swishy swoosh!’, wah waaah!’, ‘peekaboo!’ sounds.

There are lots of playful beasties too in Counting as little humans encounter in turn, Simone with her hugely long tongue, Rosalind with her two ears ‘to hear the howling wind, Brooke who is endowed with three eyes so she can read her spooky book, four-winged Guy,

and so on till they reach ten- spiked Nicole with an invitation to drum along with her, (any suitable surface will do) which should of course, be monstrously loud.

I’m sure said humans will also take up the invitation to ‘count like a monster all over again’ too and that means lots more licking, swinging (maybe not of ears), fluttering, brushing of teeth, block building, running, spinning and a little bit of chilling as well.

Counting has never been such fun.

Hide-and-Seek Peekaboo
illustrated by Nicola Slater
Chronicle Books

This sweet interactive Beginning Baby board book combines two things babies and toddlers love – playing peekaboo and lift-the-flap books. Herein the jolly characters – Riley the narwhal, Elijah the elephant, giraffe Gabriel, octopus Paisley, Mia the monkey, Matteo the red panda and Layla the llama have all hidden themselves away in various parts of the house – under or behind items of furniture or furnishings – for little ones to find.

All the rooms are alive with vibrant coloured objects, most of which will be familiar to toddlers while others can become part of a ‘show me the …’ game once they’ve been told the names of say ‘the globe’ or ‘harp’ in the illustrations.

This I suspect is a book, little ones will want shared over and over again.

Wild Animal Board Books

A Cub Story
Kristen Tracy, illustrated by Alison Farrell
Chronicle Books

The titular bear cub acts as narrator in this board book taking us through a year of its life showing readers its features, sharing its activities – sitting still in a favourite springtime spot by a waterfall being one; rolling downhill right into blackberry bushes is the favourite summer pastime and come autumn fishing is THE thing to do and that takes him through to the winter when it’s time to snuggle with family in their den for a long sleep. As each season starts, the cub compares his attributes with those of other creatures in the location: he eats a lot compared with a hedgehog

but little compared to a moose. In the meadow he’s much slower than the elk whereas by the pond, he moves super fast leaving the snails far behind.

With Kristen Tracy’s playful text that introduces positional vocabulary and lots of words relating to the natural world and Alison Farrell’s engaging mixed media scenes that have just the right amount of gently humorous details, this is a delightful book to share with the very young.

Wake Up
Pau Morgan
Little Tiger

This sweet addition to the little nature series features four animals that are or have been hibernating and are now emerging from sleep ready to eat and perhaps to play. We meet dormice, a bear and her cubs, a pair of lemurs

and finally, a tortoise and there’s a final ’Do you know any other animals that hibernate?’

I really like this series with its grainy card pages, peep-holes and Pau Morgan’s beautifully coloured, textured scenes of the creatures; like others in the series, it’s great for sharing and effortlessly educative.

Who Said Twit Twoo?
Yi-Hsuan Wu
Little Tiger

Toddlers are introduced to eleven different creatures as they turn the pages and look beneath the flaps to discover the answers to the Who said … followed by a sound – ‘Twit twoo!’ for instance, the question being asked by a sleepy squirrel who continues opposite ‘Was it Fox?’ with the correct answer, ‘No, it was Owl!’ being given beneath the flap.
The next three spreads are similarly presented with ‘Aaaooh!’, ‘Grrr!’, ‘Squeak!’ as the creature noises to identify

and the final spread has a shiny mirror opposite which some of the animals ask, ‘What do you say?’
Lots of fun learning potential herein.

Where is Everyone? / The Day Time Stopped

These are two quirky books from Prestel – thanks to the publisher for sending them for review

Where is Everyone?
Tom Schamp
Prestel

Herein Tom Schamp invites little ones to discover the unexpected in the expected as they lift the flaps to find what is hiding beneath in turn the bushes, a toadstool, a small car,

a washing machine, a fridge, a toaster, a cup and saucer, a sofa, a toilet, a sink, a bath, a bed, a gift-wrapped box and a tiered decorated cake. The text on each page comprises a ‘who question’ and the answer hidden under the flap – a peacock, Puss in Boots or a tortoise raring to go, for instance.

Now who would expect to find a racoon inside the washing machine or a hamster getting rather heated in the toaster? And I suspect nobody would anticipate there being a monkey on a surfboard lurking behind that cup containing that cuppa, nor a napping camel tucked away behind that comfy couch.

Full of whimsical ideas, this playful board book with its duck commentator surely will encourage youngsters to go beyond the information given and look at things with a fresh, creative mind and eye.

The Day Time Stopped
Flavia Ruotolo

If you’ve ever stopped to wonder what your friend in another part of the world is doing right now, perhaps because you want to call them on your mobile, then here’s a fun book for you.

The young narrator who happens to be in Genoa, Italy is just taking her first bite from an ice-lolly (she calls it a popsicle) at 5:33pm her time when inexplicably, time stops.

At that exact time in another part of Europe – Berlin – Selma and Nora bring their scooter to a sudden halt – just in time to prevent a small creature getting run over.

In La Paz (Bolivia) however it’s 12.33pm and Rosa’s grandmother has just finished knitting a sweater while in New York City two children discover their tube of toothpaste is empty – it’s 11.33 am their time.

At that moment too Kimo’s underwear pings off the washing line in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) where the time is 2:33am and in Sapporo, Japan Yuki’s cat is woken by a noise. (The clock there would say 1:33am).

Concurrently, Makena, way off in Nairobi proudly shows her first ever self portrait to her dad, the time there being 7:33pm; whereas in Maurituis’s Port Louis it’s 8:33pm and Carl the canary wants his dinner.

And so on …

Then, suddenly time restarts and things seem normal once more: now for our narrator back in Genoa, it’s 5:34pm.

Flavia Ruotolo’s seemingly simple playful presentation of people, animals and their activities is essentially a philosophical reflection on the notion of time and place that takes readers across two dozen time zones and on a lightning visit to twenty six countries. These are shown on a world map on the penultimate spread and the book concludes with an explanation of why it isn’t the same time the world over.

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth / What’s in the Box? / Halloween

Ganesha’ Sweet Tooth
Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes
Chronicle Books

Just in time for Ganesh Chaturthi in a few days is this lovely board book edition of a modern version of one of the most popular Hindu legends – the episode in which Ganesha got his broken tusk. It tells how when young, Ganesha liked nothing better than eating sweet things, especially the Indian confection, laddoos. This results in tragedy during Ganesha and his ‘friend’ Mr Mouse’s search for sweets when they come upon a new kind of laddoo, The Super Jumbo Jawbreaker Laddoo.

Despite warnings from Mr Mouse, Ganesha just can’t resist chomping down on the thing – “I’m invincible.” he reassures his friend – and snap! Off comes one of his tusks. Furious at being unable to repair himself, young Ganesha hurls the broken tusk at the moon.

It misses, landing at the feet of the ancient sage and poet, Vyasa who happens to have a special task for the tusk thrower and thus Ganesha lands the job of scribing the great epic of Hindu literature, the Mahabharata.

This little book is a riot of dayglo colour with Sanjay Patel’s brilliant ultra-modern visuals, some of which are reminiscent of what you might see in a temple in South India. Others are decidedly closer to some of the contemporary Pixar animations he has worked on.

By adding their own embellishments and playing slightly with the original plot, Patel and Haynes have created a wonderfully playful rendering of a classic legend that will appeal widely .

The next two are published by Little Tiger:

What’s in the Box?
Isabel Otter and Jaoquin Camp

How exciting: a pile of parcels has just arrived waiting to be investigated. What could be packed away inside? That’s what youngsters are invited to discover in this chunky tactile, lift-the-flap book.

Box one looks as though it’s rather fiery but what has made those scorch marks? There’s a hint in the cut-away shiny, scaly shape just visible.

The second box seems to have the fidgets and there’s a warning on the wrapping … A tricky one this. I wonder what it holds …

Next is a beribboned container but strangely some wool has escaped from within. “Fragile” says the label on the fourth box wherein so we read, is something noisy – hmmm? 

However, the best has been kept till last – it’s a veritable treasure trove of … Can you guess what?

With Isabel Otter’s brief rhyming text andJoaquin Camp’s alluring surprise containers to explore, there’s sufficient to engage little ones during several book sharing sessions.

Halloween
Patricia Hegarty and Fhiona Galloway

With Halloween coming up next month (I can’t believe I’m saying that), adults might want to reinforce counting skills with this mock-scary book that introduces in turn, one little skeleton that’s found a hiding place, two slightly anxious little trick-or-treaters, three glowing jack o’lanterns, four hoppy toads, five family portraits, one about to take a tumble, six sleepy bats, seven ghosts, eight spiders of the hirsute kind, nine snoozing moggies, or rather they were before being disturbed by the ten small, appropriately attired party goers.

The rhyming text and Fhionna Galloway’s cute, colourful illustrations offer plenty for preschoolers to enjoy herein.

Flip Flap Zoo / Where’s Mr Fire Engine?

These are recent additions to popular, playful series from Nosy Crow – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Zoo

The zoo is the latest location for Axel Scheffler’s split page animal extravaganza and happily there’s not a cage in sight for the dozen creatures that offer rhyming verses on themselves.
What fun you can have generating your own crazy conglomerates – 121 possibilities according to the frog on the back cover.

What would you get by crossing a lemur with an ostrich?

In case you didn’t guess – it’s a lemich. Then what about a jaguar and a hippopotamus? Roar! Roar! Growl! Growl! that one’s a jagotamus.

Full of zany names, noises aplenty to exercise the vocal cords and all those creature combinations to giggle over, this book will give preschool joiners-in, and Foundation Stage/KS1 children hours of pleasure both visual and verbal.

Where’s Mr Fire Engine?
Ingela P Arrhenius

Four potentially very noisy vehicles lurk beneath the variously shaped felt flaps in the latest of this series that ends with a surprise mirror (or maybe not such a surprise if your little one is familiar with previous titles). Nonetheless the very youngest will enjoy guessing what’s hidden, exploring the bright stylised scenes and joining in with the ‘Here s/he is!’ as the police car, ambulance, helicopter and fire engine are revealed.

ROAR! / Build

Thanks to publishers Little Tiger for sending these new board books for review

ROAR!
Amelia Hepworth and Jorge Martín

Who will be the winner of the Best Roar in Town contest? With a dapper duck as compere, the animals take turns to let loose their most fearsome roars. There’s Mouse who receives faint praise; Penguin – not overly impressive; Dog – definitely an underwhelming performance and then comes Dinosaur.

Now here’s a likely winner especially with a score of eight.

Hang on though, step forward another competitor …

With flaps to manipulate, number scores to recognise, contestants’ comments from the sidelines and the entire verbal presentation via speech bubbles, little ones will delight in the silliness of the whole thing as well as the opportunities for some roaring.

Build
Pau Morgan

The latest in this Little Nature series presents animals as constructors of their own homes. There are honey bees busily building a beeswax safe place to store food and keep their eggs. Then comes stick-collecting eagle looking for materials to build a nest, followed by web-spinning spider and finally a pair of beavers. These strong-toothed mammals collect stones and bits of trees to build a dam wherein they make a cosy lodge.

Peek-through holes provide additional interest to this one and it’s printed on 100% recycled board which gives a lovely feel to the sturdy pages.

Animal Colours, Animal 123 and Animal ABC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have Fun With Boardbooks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Your Toddler Bookshelf

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

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

100 First Words: City
illustrated by Edward Underwood
Nosy Crow

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

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

Home Is Where the Heart Is
Emma Dodd
Templar Books

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

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

A Celebration of Dads

My Dad
Susan Quinn and Marina Ruiz
Words & Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Daddy
Leslie Patricelli
Walker Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same is true of

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

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

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

Dinosaur Snap! The Spinosaurus
Macmillan Children’s Books

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

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

Colours, Pretend Play, Nursery Fun and an Angry Bear

Colours
Tim Hopgood
Oxford Children’s Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make Tracks: Building Site / Go Go Tin

Make Tracks: Building Site
Johnny Dryander
Nosy Crow

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

Each one – concrete mixer,

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

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

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

Go Go Tin
Claire Philip and Steven Wood
Sunbird Books

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

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

A Celebration of Board Books

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

First Nature: Ladybird
Harriet Evans and Bryony Clarkson

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

Elephant Elephant What Can You See?
Pintachan

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

Beep Beep! Builders
Becky Davies and Gareth Lucas

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

For a slightly older audience is

Your Body
Harriet Evans and Lirios Bou

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

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

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

Stop That Dinosaur! / Mamasaurus

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

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

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

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

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

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

In board book format for younger dino, enthusiasts is

Mamasaurus
Stephan Lomp
Chronicle Books

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

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

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

Bees, Trees and Planet Earth

Bees
Trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zoom: Dinosaur Adventure / Rainforest Adventure & Grow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grow (Little Nature)
illustrated by Pau Morgan
Caterpillar Books

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

Toddler Bookshelf

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

Not quite a board book but sturdily made is:

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

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

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

All Manner of Board Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Tiger Board Books for Little Humans

Day and Night
Harriet Evans and Lirios Bou

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

I Can Learn: Dinosaurs
Lauren Crisp and Thomas Elliott

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

Also illustrated by Thomas Elliott is

How Many Beads?
written by Nicola Edwards

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

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

Plenty to engage little hands, eyes and minds here.

Everybody Belongs / Where’s Brian’s Bottom?

Everybody Belongs
Lorna Freytag
Studio Press

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

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

Where’s Brian’s Bottom?
Rob Jones
Pavilion

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

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

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

of which the sleeping Brian is blissfully unaware.

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

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

Let’s Play, Cheetah
Time for Bed, Panda

Jo Lodge
Campbell Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

Play and Learn with Board Books

The Touch Book
written by Nicola Edwards
Little Tiger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Makes a Family
Sophie Beer

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

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

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

I Want to Be … a Doctor
illustrated by Richard Merritt

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

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

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

ABCs of Kindness

ABCs of Kindness
Samantha Berger and Ekaterina Trukhan
Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

Board Books for Christmas

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

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

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

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

Peas on Earth
Jonny Marx and Lindsey Sagar
Little Tiger

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

My Magical Snowman
illustrated by Yujin Shin
Campbell Books

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

Dear Santa
Rod Campbell
Macmillan Children’s Books

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

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

Monster Clothes
Monster Food

Daisy Hirst
Walker Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

before snuggling up for the night.

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

Who’s Driving? / What a Ship Sees

Who’s Driving?
Leo Timmers
Gecko Press

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

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

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

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

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

What A Ship Sees
Laura Knowles and Vivian Mineker
Welbeck Publishing

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

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

and the changing weather.

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

safety, or ships and boats.

Supertato Super Squad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating Nosy Crow Board Books

Peekaboo Bear
Peekaboo Apple

Camilla Reid and Ingela P Arrhenius

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

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

Listen to the Carnival of the Animals
Marion Billet

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

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

Who’s Hiding in the Snow?
Katharine McEwen

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

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

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