Tag Archives: Jonathan Litton

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

Zoology for Babies
Architecture for Babies

Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspiration for further creativity perhaps.

Anatomy for Babies / Botany for Babies

Anatomy for Babies
Botany for Babies

Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

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

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

and muscles, and back out to see the skin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holes

Holes
Jonathan Litton and Thomas Hegbrook
360 Degrees

According to the Oxford English Dictionary Jonathan Litton quotes at the beginning of this large format book, a hole is ‘a hollow place in a solid body or surface’. It then goes on to say ‘they are both something and nothing” – paradoxical hmm?

All manner of hole-related topics from caves to nostrils, and phloem to philosophical ideas are covered, the information being gathered under five main headings: Natural Holes, Manmade Holes, Animal and Plant Holes, Philosophy of Holes and Ordinary and Extraordinary Holes – the result, author Litton tells us in his introduction of ‘squirrelling and hoarding’ lots of kinds of hole ideas in a huge hollowed out hole. I like that notion.

The rest of the text is equally engaging as well as highly informative. I learned a new word – spelunker – meaning people ‘who visit caves, but without proper training’ – on the second spread.

The second theme, ‘Manmade Holes’ includes mines, wells and boreholes, tunnels and subways

as well as subterranean living, secret holes and buried treasure.

I enjoyed too, the idea of earth being like a ‘Swiss cheese under our feet!’ and I know many children will giggle at the mention of ‘bottoms’, which are included as an example of the location of holes within animals.
The topic of plant holes particularly fascinates me and there’s a spread devoted to some of the ways plants use holes.

Thomas Hegbrook has done a sterling job in providing illustrations for all the themes making every spread an invitation to delve deeper.

With its die-cut cover, the whole is a veritable treasure trove of holes, to be dipped into and rooted around in: you never know what you might find, but as the author says in his finale, what he’s covered herein is just a small sampling of a ‘hidden wonderland’; the rest is awaiting our discovery. I know I’ll never take a walk and think about what I see in quite the same way, having read this book.

Happy hole exploring.

Let’s Hear it for Dads

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Baking With Dad
Aurora Cacciapuoti
Child’s Play
When a little girl (the narrator) and her dad, oh, and there’s a moggy assisting too, spend the day baking, magic happens. But this isn’t any old baking day – it’s a special day for someone.
Let’s go back to the start though: first task (having donned chef’s hats) is to select the ingredients …

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Then it’s time to get them into the mixing bowl, starting with the eggs …

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followed by the sugar and a bit of mixing and shaking. Next comes the flour – a rather large quantity

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and butter and milk, plus fruit to finish the whole thing off.

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Now let the baking magic commence.
But why are the cooks now bustling around with bunting, crayons and more? To find out, you’ll just have to get hold of this sparkling story to see for yourself.
Aurora Cacciapuoti’s illustrations, in combination with her brief text, have made for a gigglesome delight to share around Father’s Day. But it’s way too much fun to restrict to then: this one’s a winner any day and in addition to a read aloud, it’s ideal for those beginning to read for themselves.

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Amazing Daddy
Rachel Bright
Orchard Books
I’ve come across very few children who don’t think their particular dad is THE best and so it is with the little panda narrator of this wonderfully warm story. Of course, like most dads, Daddy Panda has to go to work but before that there’s usually time for a snuggle up together …

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and maybe even a shared breakfast.

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At weekends Daddy might be busy in his shed, working on important projects …

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but other days are spent just playing and even when little panda misbehaves, his dad remains cool and calm.
For all these reasons and many more – best of all being the shared bedtime stories – there’s no other dad that can come close to the amazing superhero daddy whose virtues this little panda extols.
A smashing celebration of the relationship between father and child: Rachel Bright’s illustrations are full of tenderness and sufficient gentle humour to please the adults who share this with young children.

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Your Baby’s First Word Will be Dada
Jimmy Fallon and Miguel Ordóñez
Hodder Children’s Books
Two dads, one a relation, the other a friend have said to me in the last couple of weeks that their offspring have started talking and guess what the first word said in both instances was: “Dada”. So too here – or rather that’s the intention of the various animal fathers – in this hoot of a book. However paternal coaching doesn’t yield the desired results as we are shown – most merely proffer the characteristic sound of their species …

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though there is the odd exception …

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Maybe a more regimented group effort will bring on the all-important D word.

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That’s better, proud fathers all round … Well, almost: there’s always one …
Comedian and actor, Fallon has combined forces with Spanish illustrator, Ordóñez and it’s the artist who really makes this extended joke work.

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I Love My Daddy
Jonathan Litton and Fhiona Galloway
Little Tiger Kids
Dads come in all shapes and sizes and, according to their offspring in this board book celebration of father figures be they Lion, Penguin, Cheetah, Hippo …

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Goat or Dog, deserve rewarding in one way or another.
Attractive illustrations with a die-cut star on each spread that is part and parcel of a special gift from child to dad, are a key feature here; and the combination of Litton’s rhyming text and Fhiona Galloway’s bright scenes make for a jolly book for very littles to share with their special Dad figures around father’s day or any time.

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Board Book Roundup

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Hugless Douglas First Words
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
Our favourite hugging bear certainly has his priorities right in this six-word board book. Having safely deposited his Teddy, Douglas relaxes – well that was his intention – in a Bath

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and indulges himself with his favourite preserve, then dons his Pyjamas and dressing gown ready for a spot of Book sharing …

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followed by a Hug (of course) and then everyone snuggles down in and around the Bed.
That, in a nutshell is it; but there’s so much going on in the illustrations that there’s at least one story on every spread.
There’s also a session of book sharing in:

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I Love My Mummy
Fhiona Galloway and Jonathan LittonLittle Tiger Kids,
Little Tiger Kids
Bright, cheery art work, die cuts and an assortment of humanised animals (other than the final one) are the key elements of this little rhyming ‘thank you to mum’ book published just in time for Mother’s Day. A calf, a little frog, a kitten, a bear,

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a young croc. a lamb and a bee all have their own ways of delivering the message and each has a floral offering for their very special mother, little bee’s being the most spectacular in my view.

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Animal mothers also feature in

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Baby Tiger
Baby Bear
illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
Chronicle Books
A pair of tiny chunky board books each with a cute finger puppet, present some basic information about the respective baby animals and how they spend their days from early morning through to bedtime, and at the same time encourage playful interaction between the adult and infant sharing them. Book sharing is one of the very best experiences you can give your very young child to nurture his or her language and general cognition. When you read as if you’re having a conversation with your child it’s supplying brilliant brain food in addition to helping to develop that very special bond between you.

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Listen to the Music
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow
Half a dozen different animals strut their stuff as musicians herein: there’s recorder-playing Pig, Elephant the pianist, violinist Cat,

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a pair of guitar strumming Zebras, a couple of Bear drummers and finally Mouse tinkles on the xylophone. When you press the button on each instrument (once you’ve activated the switch inside the back cover, that is) the musician in question starts playing.
I have a suspicion this jolly little book will be played to destruction: it’s a fun way to introduce some musical instrument names to tinies and you could perhaps play a memory game: What did Elephant play? etc. Or turn it around: Which animal played the piano. No peeping on the final page though.

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