Choices / Bye, Car

Child’s Play

Using the backdrop of a lido on a summer’s day, this debut picture book explores some of the many decisions children will be faced with in their lives. Relatively few words and engaging playful scenes of a wonderfully diverse cast of characters and one little girl in particular, invite youngsters to consider the possible choices they might make and the consequences thereof.

Some are simple: what kind of ice-cream to buy, should I be kind and share my lunch with somebody else; or much harder – shall I take a dive from the high diving board?

But what I really like about the entire book is that the text never actually says what is happening on the page, allowing the reader/ listener to explore each illustration, discuss what the little girl is doing, how she could be feeling, and perhaps what the consequences of her choices might be.

Teaching children about choices and consequences, and causes and effects is part and parcel of the foundation stage curriculum and beyond as well as something parents are involved in – it’s a part of growing up but sometimes living with the outcomes of those choices is more difficult. This book offers a really good starting point for conversations with a very young child or class of little ones but equally could be used again later on for reflection and further discussion

The book ends with a reminder of everyone’s uniqueness not spoken this time, but hinted at in the final scene wherein the smiling little girl takes centre stage (almost!) beneath which are the words ‘and with every choice you grow!’ It’s definitely one to add to class, school, and home collections.

There are important choices too in:

Bye, Car
Naomi Danis and Daniel Rieley
Child’s Play

Whether or not they understand the green message of this book, youngsters will enjoy seeing the wide variety of cars and perhaps trying to identify some of them, as two young children bid farewell to those passing by. They start by watching from a window the ones travelling along the busy road and then accompanied by an adult, they venture out into the hustling bustling urban streets for further vehicle spotting.
Naomi Danis’ rhyming narrative includes basic opposites such as near/far, and becomes increasingly descriptive – ‘car in a hurry/ car in a flurry’, ‘howling car, growling car’

and is nicely balanced by Daniel Rieley’s alluring, unfussy illustrations that starkly remind us of the way our streets are vehicle dominated. Happily however, come the new day, the walk shows greener alternatives to the pollution-spewing cars as we see an electric bus, cyclists and other eco-friendly modes of transport.

A Trio of Search-and-Find Books

Where’s Bernard?
Katja Spitzer
Bernard the bat is preparing for his night-time birthday celebrations but he wants help to find everything he needs for the party he’s throwing for his friends. His search involves nine items …

and takes him hunting in all manner of fascinating places: a greenhouse, an underground cavern, an ice-rink, a garden,

the woods, beneath the ocean and even in outer space, each one being populated by weird and wonderful creatures.
With its ‘glow-in-the-dark’ cover and quirky, vibrantly coloured, magical scenes that are not too busy for the youngest seekers, this is a good place to start on the whole ‘search and find’ genre.

A Thousand Billion Things (and some sheep)
Loic Clement and Anne Montel
Words & Pictures
A small girl takes us through a variety of everyday happenings – having breakfast, taking a bath, getting dressed, exploring the garden, going to market, helping dad prepare the dinner and more, asking us to locate items hidden in spreads brimming over with food, clothes, vegetables, …

fish and more. Each of these events offers plenty of choices and entices readers to linger over the delicately drawn flora, toys, clothes, delicious pastries etc –which almost prove too much for the young protagonist while also locating such items as 4 hedgehogs, a frog mask, a spotty green sweater, or a pyramid of cream cakes.
Then comes bedtime, which, so the young narrator tells us on the first page, is the one time she dislikes: instead of a multitude of choices, bedtime offers nothing but sheep, endless sheep and ‘it’s a complete nightmare!’
Accompanying Clement’s quirky textual narrative, Montel’s slightly whimsical images provide a visual feast; and it’s as well, in case one gets too carried away over the details, that a visual key with the answers is provided at the back of the book.
Absorbing, fun and rewarding.

Find Me: A Hide-and-Seek Book
Anders Arhoj
Chronicle Books
Children can join with two friends as they engage in a game of hide-and-seek from opposite ends of this book.

Two large pairs of eyes peer through the die-cut holes in the front and back covers, forewarning that child participants are going to need to keep their eyes peeled to spot the protagonists in their play.
Arhoj teases with his own game of give and take: if you look at the endpapers you’ll also be forewarned that the playmates sport differently shaped hats – that should make the whole thing easier surely. But then to make the spotting considerably more difficult, he makes the two slightly foxy characters change colour; not only once but on every spread, as they move through the book and their world of hustle and bustle.
It’s a world populated by all kinds of strange and cute creatures going about their daily lives and its these, as much as the main protagonists, that provide a lot of the intrigue. I found myself distracted in every setting, just exploring all the quirky goings-on, before even starting to discover the whereabouts of the foxy friends. Every location be it shop, office, park, hospital

or elsewhere, has potential for stories aplenty.
With minimal text Arhoj has created an engrossing story-cum game picture book that will enthral and gently challenge young readers.

We Found A Hat


We Found a Hat
Jon Klassen
Walker Books
This, the concluding book in Klassen’s “Hat’ trilogy is delivered in the artist’s dead pan style. Longer than the previous two at 56 pages, and divided into three chapters, it features two turtles and just one hat – an exceedingly large one – for turtle heads, that is. Each in turn tries it on and reach one conclusion: It looks good on both of them.


Rather than have a bust-up, the two walk away to watch the sunset from a nearby rock – together.


One starts thinking about the sunset – so we’re told; the other starts thinking about you know what …
Night falls and the two prepare to sleep. One turtle starts moving downwards in the direction of a certain article of headwear … The second dreams – of stars and identical hats, one for each of them. Hmm: now what?


Seemingly that’s for readers to decide as they relish the subtleties in this Klassen finale. With its spare text and slow-moving visual action – it’s entirely a case of showing, not telling here –
and they are turtles after all. What’s going on behind those eyes? That is the key.
Rendered in sombre hues with a gradual fading out of the soft orange as the sun finally sinks, this is desert dryness in more senses than one.