Time for Play with Nosy Crow: Alphabet Street / Pip and Posy Book and Blocks Set

Alphabet Street
Jonathan Emmett and Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

It’s the alluring design that immediately attracts young children to this concertina alphabet book though I don’t imagine any wanting to let go once they start exploring inside. It’s terrific fun, folding out to make an entire street of shops – thirteen in all – each with an apartment above; and all are populated with animal characters either shopping or doing something of a homely nature.

For instance we might choose to stop at Coffee and Doughnuts café outside which two elephants are enjoying a drink and a snack.
Lift the flap and inside we have ‘Dd D is for Dog, who is drying a dish’, an illustration of same, and two more customers drinking.
Above them in the apartment … ‘Cc C is for Cat, who is cooking some fish.’

The shop names make up the entire alphabet ending with

In between are all sorts of wonderful places to visit, not least of which is this one:

Jonathan Emmett’s cleverly constructed, fun alliterative rhyming text, together with Ingela P Arrhenius’ bold, bright, retro style illustrations make for a splendidly interactive book and even more clever, on the back is a complete fold-out park scene which can be used as a backdrop for small world play. So too can Alphabet Street itself which could perhaps be used in conjunction with a play mat. The learning possibilities, in addition to the obvious alphabet element, are enormous.

Pip and Posy Book and Blocks Set
Axel Scheffler
Nosy Crow

This set includes a board book copy of Pip and Posy: The Big Balloon and a set of nine jigsaw puzzle building blocks.

In case you’re not familiar with the story, essentially it tells what happens when Pip lets go the string of his prized shiny red balloon and it floats away. The best friends give chase but the balloon bursts. Fortunately Posy is ready and willing to provide cheer in the form of bubbles – lots of them. And if they pop, well it doesn’t matter for that’s what bubbles are supposed to do.

The blocks can be used to make 6 different scenes from Pip and Posy stories: toddlers may need some help with this activity but a pictorial guide is provided.

If you’re looking for a fun present for a little one, this gift set might well fit the bill: Pip and Posy are a delightful duo.

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

Where’s Mr Penguin?
Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

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

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

Monsters Go Night-Night
Aaron Zenz
Abrams

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

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

Balance the Birds
Susie Ghahremani
Abrams Appleseed

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

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

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

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

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

Treasure Hunt House

Treasure Hunt House
Kate Davies and Becca Stadtlander
Lincoln Children’s Books

When a brother and sister receive a letter from their Great Aunt Martha inviting them to go and stay at her incredible house their mother urges them to accept.
They pack a weekend bag and off they go only to discover on arrival that their aunt isn’t there. She’s been unexpectedly called away but in her stead is her kindly looking housekeeper who introduces herself as Jo. She informs the children that their aunt has planned a treasure hunt to occupy their time until her return.

We join them in the hallway as they attempt to solve the first clue, ‘I have a heart of stone. And a head of stone, too’ and lifting the various flaps on the spread will reveal the solution along with further instructions, as well as cultural and historical information about some of the objects therein.

Thereafter we follow them around as, accompanied by Jo, they visit the rest of the rooms: the kitchen; the bedroom, where we read of the making of the first denim jeans;

the bathroom (this has a trickier riddle and a famous painting reproduction on the wall);

the living room – the cat introduces itself there); the library with its floor to ceiling bookshelves (Aunt Martha is evidently a Shakespeare enthusiast); the olde-worlde dining room; the sub-tropical  conservatory wherein butterflies flittered around the flowers;

the enormously fascinating Cabinet of curiosities packed with biological specimens including a velociraptor skeleton and a shelf of corals; a wonderful art gallery; a hall of inventions (Aunt Martha is an avid collector of incredible inventions, we learn); a music room packed with instruments of all kinds; and finally, a child’s paradise of a toy room. Therein too the final clue is solved and the secret of Jo’s real identity revealed.

Each room is exciting, packed with history and in all there are over 50 flaps to explore.

This is a fascinating and magical book that is likely to engender an interest in both history and art; it’s perfect for all who enjoy playing with or collecting doll’s houses, or have an interest in old houses, and would make a super present.

Wonders of the World

Wonders of the World
Isabel Otter and Margaux Carpentier
360 Degrees

The world is a truly amazing place and its wonders, some of which were formed naturally and others made by humans, are really a sight to behold. In this book author Isabel Otter and illustrator Margaux Carpentier present them for us all to see and appreciate without even moving from our seats. Better still is being able to see them with your own eyes but I as a fairly well travelled individual have visited only two of them, India’s Taj Mahal

and The Colosseum in Rome and some of them I think are no longer in existence.

In all we pay a vicarious visit to twenty one wonders thanks to the stand out bright images, descriptive text and lift-the-flap details.
We’re shown seven ancient wonders including the Temple of Artemis in Turkey, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Hanging Garden of Babylon.

Look out for the wheel feature on this page.

Those representing the modern world include the Great Wall of China, which was actually started in 221BCE and said to be the longest structure ever built by humans, having grown over 2000 years to it enormous present (21,196km) length.

Sadly of those presented on the final spread of Natural Wonders one, the Great Barrier Reef, is in great danger on account of global warming caused by we humans.

Each of these wonders could be a starting point for further exploration by interested readers and the whole book would make a great discussion topic with groups or individuals presenting their particular favourite to the rest of the class.

I personally would love to see those Hanging Gardens but there isn’t any chance of that since no trace of them has ever been found. Instead I’ll just have to do with imagining them.

When the Bees Buzzed Off!

When the Bees Buzzed Off!
Lula Bell and Stephen Bennett
Little Tiger Press

Bees play a vital role in the natural world and now the creators of this picture book are helping to put the message across to young children through a ‘play along’ story.
On a warm sunny day in the garden there’s consternation among the other minibeasts: the bees are nowhere to be seen; without them how will vital pollination take place?
A decision is made: three of the bravest and cleverest, Snail, Beetle and Worm, set off on a bee search. They stop at the vegetable patch, the woodpile and the pond but of bees there is no sign.

Suddenly, having gone through a gap in the fence into the woodland nearby they hear a familiar, much welcome sound. In a clearing full of flowers are the objects of their hunt ready to explain why they’ve had to move elsewhere.

With its plethora of speech bubbles, Lula Bell’s gently humorous story will help young children understand how important bees are. In fact the bees themselves do much of the talking but they’ve hidden themselves away under flaps in the illustrations for readers to find. Stephen Bell echoes the humour in his busy mixed media scenes of the natural world in and around the garden.

I hope that children will do what those bee-hunting bugs do at the end of the story and plant some bee friendly seeds in their gardens; or perhaps create a bee-friendly patch in their school grounds.

Stomp! Stomp! / Count on Goz / Night and Day

Stomp! Stomp!
Sebastien Braun
Nosy Crow
In this new addition to the ‘Can you say it too?’ board book series, a handful of dinosaurs have hidden, or rather attempted to hide themselves, in Sebastien Braun’s brightly illustrated spreads.
Very young children will get lots of pleasure manipulating the flaps (plants, a cloud and a rock) to discover what’s hiding beneath them, as well as getting their tongues around the names and noises.

Children beginning to read often find words such as ‘triceratops’, ‘diplodocus’, ‘stegosaurus’, ‘pterodactyl’ and ‘tyrannosaurus’ easy to recognise especially in a meaningful context, so why shouldn’t infants just starting to talk encounter them early on too, perhaps even with that older sibling reading the book with its short, predictable text, with them.

Count on Goz
Steve Weatherill
Steve Weatherill Books
Goz the baby goose has just taken his early morning swim but now he’s managed to lose the other geese. In his search he encounters in turn a cow and her calf, a sheep and 2 lambs, a mother cat and her 3 kittens and a dog with 4 lively puppies. To each he says, “Hello. Are the geese here?” but is greeted with “No, only me and my …” followed by a “Moo!”, “Baa, baa!” and so on …

until finally beside the big pond we spy …
Guess what is tucked in the nest beneath that large wing.
In addition to the baby animals revealed by opening the flap on each spread, the final page has 6 swallows, 7 sheep, 8 eggs, 9 newts and 10 tadpoles for those who want to continue their counting.
First published over 25 years ago, Goz has certainly stood the test of time. In addition to being a first counting book, this re-issue is, with its brief, predictable text, just right for beginning readers and far better than the rubbishy reading schemes offered to children starting to read in schools nowadays.
Equally it’s perfect to share with a small group of listeners in a nursery setting or an adult or older child to read to a younger sibling.

Night and Day
Julie Safirstein
Princeton Architectural Press
In ‘A Big Book of Opposites’, as the subtitle says, Safirstein uses simple shapes, clever design and bold colours together with flaps of various sizes, pop-ups, fold-outs and other interactive devices to help demonstrate opposing relationships such as tiny/ huge (and sizes in between); left/right – which has a secondary numerical element …

high/low; night/day – in this instance a large tree unfolds to illustrate both.
Circular sliders can be manipulated to demonstrate alone/together and next to/far (with ‘in the middle’ also included for good measure).
The whole thing is a handsome and inventive production …

and even the finale is ingenious; a gatefold is lifted to ‘open’ a bright red flower after which the book is ‘closed’ as printed on the back cover.
Once in their clutches, young users will I suspect spend a considerable amount of time with the book ‘open’, being reluctant to ‘close’ it, thoroughly enjoy playing with the various moveable parts so it’s as well the whole thing is sturdily constructed. It might even help them develop a few concepts while so doing.

Lois Looks for Bob: At Home / At the Park & Better Together

Lois Looks for Bob at Home
Lois Looks for Bob at the Park

Gerry Turley
Nosy Crow
In an exciting new series, two amusing, sturdily build board books involve toddlers in a game of hide and seek to find a missing bird.
Lois is a black cat; Bob her unlikely, feathered friend.
In the first book, Bob has disappeared somewhere indoors but has left a trail of yellow feathers to help Lois in her search. The canny feline hunts high and low and in the process introduces readers to a host of other resident animals with unlikely names, before locating her friend (sans a few feathers).
I’m not sure what Bob was doing in the park but it’s the location for Lois’ second search.
There are many possible hiding places as well as a hilariously named set of park residents to discover (Derek and Susan ducks, Roger the squirrel, Cynthia snail …

and Frank the peacock) before her feathered pal is finally found.
The simple question and answer text involves young listeners from the outset and will keep them amused throughout Lois’ investigations during which they’ll be encountering a range of positional prepositions.

Better Together
Barbara Joosse, Anneke Lisberg and Jared Andrew Schorr
Abrams Appleseed
Die-cut gatefold pages turn single animals – a nervous zebra, a hungry bat,



a curious crow, a frisky meerkat, a brave prairie dog and a little rat into members of their respective communities as each is comforted, fed, or otherwise nurtured by its fellows.
The penultimate spread has an infant with its human family who have all gatherered together to celebrate its first birthday.

Observant readers will notice that along with the humans, each animal has also found its way into the birthday party.
There’s a final ‘Fun Things to Know’ spread that provides some brief facts about some ways the featured animals help each other.
Satisfying rhyming or alliterative phrases such as ‘flicky ticky’, ‘rumbly tumbly’ and ‘doodle daddle’ enliven the brief text and Schorr’s densely coloured collage illustrations offer attractive animal environments.

I’ve signed the charter