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

A Forest’s Seasons
Ingela P. Arrhenius
Chronicle Books

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

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

Apple
Nikki McClure
Abrams Appleseed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katharine McEwen
Nosy Crow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

100 First Words
Edward Underwood
Nosy Crow

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

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

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

Betsy Rabbit in the Park
Ralphie Dog at the Station

Melissa Crowton
Nosy Crow

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

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

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

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

Unobtrusively educational and more important, fun to share.

 

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

Mary Had a Little Lamb
This Little Piggy

Jarvis
Walker Books

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

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

and a treat…

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

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

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

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

Guido van Genechten
Catch a Star

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marcel’s Parcels / Prima’s Missing Bunnies

Marcel’s Parcels
Prima’s Missing Bunnies

Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby Touch: Playbook
Baby Touch: Animals

illustrated by Lemon Ribbon Studio

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

illustrated by Allison Black
Ladybird Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Engineering for Babies, Economics for Babies / Little Adventurers Airport

Engineering for Babies
Economics for Babies

Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

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

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

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

A molecular engineer and a chemical engineer at work

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

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

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

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

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

Little Adventurers: Airport
Jonny Marx and Cinta Villabos
360 Degrees

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

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

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

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

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

This is Frog / Let’s Find the Tiger

This is Frog
Harriet Evans and Jacqui Lee
Caterpillar Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and striped curvy objects are not Tiger.

Could the dark, tucked away location be its hideaway?

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