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.

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.

Eco Craft Book / The Extraordinary Book That Eats Itself

Eco Craft Book
Laura Minter and Tia Williams
GMC Publications

In their latest book, Laura and Tia offer some cool ideas for using bits and pieces that might otherwise end up being thrown away.

Instead of consigning that old T-shirt or other no longer worn garments to the rubbish or recycling bin, why not suggest your children try a project like the T-shirt friendship bracelets here.

Alternatively, if the T-shirt is white, it can be dyed using a natural plant dye and refashioned into a ‘no-sew tie-dye bag’. Those are just two of the fabric projects.

Getting even closer to nature, youngsters can make a collection of interesting shaped leaves, grasses or perhaps feathers and use them to make some printed cards (or perhaps wrapping paper)

and if you want to attract more wildlife into your garden, there are instructions for creating a bug hotel using for example, old tin cans.

Each mini project is succinctly explained with step-by-step guidance and clearly illustrated with colour photos. In addition there are spreads that talk about climate change, what youngsters can do to help protect the environment and why it is important to immerse children in nature.

This book would be a boon to parents who are coping with home schooling, but all of us who work with children have a duty to nurture their creativity and to encourage them to think about the impact on the environment of all they do.

The Extraordinary Book That Eats Itself
Susan Hayes & Penny Arlon, illustrated by Pintachan
Red Shed ((Egmont)

If you’re looking to engage a child or children in some environmental projects here’s a book to try. It’s packed with eco-projects – thirty in all – and each page (as well as the cover) is cleverly designed to be used in an activity – hence the title.

It’s amazing just how much difference simple everyday actions such as turning off the lights when you leave a room, and at night can make, not only for the safety of animals but to reduce electricity consumption. Ditto, saving water by turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or using your bath water to ‘feed’ your plants (of course that takes a bit of effort but every drip and drop counts). There’s a Make a Difference in your home’ page with additional suggestions .

One of my favourite projects is Throw a seed ball to rewild a built-up area, something I’ve never tried, although I have scattered plenty of packets of wild flower seeds. This is really clever though and all that’s needed in addition to wild flower seeds are water, flour and soil to make your mixture. Can’t wait to have a go at this.

(The reverse side suggests making seed paper for writing a message on – another clever idea.)

Whether or not home schooling continues, this is certainly worth getting hold of.

Music: A Fold-Out Graphic History

Music: A Fold-Out Graphic History
Nicholas O’Neill & Susan Hayes, illustrated by Ruby Taylor
What on Earth Books

This large format, concertina book is published in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Essentially it opens up the entire world of music to all whether or not they have a specific interest in music and is written by Nicholas O’Neill, himself an acclaimed musician and composer and author Susan Hayes. Together with illustrator Ruby Taylor, they present a superb illustrated timeline that unfolds to double-sided 2.5 metres beginning in prehistoric times with the use of bones, gourds, and hooves, and culminating in contemporary music of Björk, Adele, Beyonce and Grime artist Stormsy.

Pretty much everything one can imagine relating to music as well as more that you can’t, is included in the densely packed pages. Truly international in perspective, the presentation begins with a world map showing prehistoric sounds emanating not only from instruments from the aforementioned materials but also perhaps, from wood.

We meet music makers of all kinds – maestros and more – mainly in national or period dress. There are pithy paragraphs about such things as written music from 1000 CE, the first printed music (1501), styles of music, the use of technology in playing and recording

and various innovations including the Chinabot platform that showcases Asian music both modern and traditional, as well as MuseNet – an online tool that uses AI so create songs of different styles.

The book covers orchestral music, opera, rock -‘n’-roll, protest music and there are some lesser known mentions such as opera founder Wei Liangfu; and American composer Amy Beach and English composer Ethel Smyth whose March of the Women became the anthem of the women’s suffrage movement.

Some musicians have a paragraph,

while the Beatles have a whole page devoted to them, and there’s a double spread entitled the Royal Albert Hall of Fame.

There’s no way you can read, let alone digest, the entire contents of this inclusive and highly visual offering in a single sitting. It’s engrossing; and in addition to the index and glossary, the authors provide personal notes and even, a final playlist. All in all, a truly amazing collaboration and a book to add to primary and secondary collections, as well as family bookshelves.

Zoom: Ocean Adventure & Zoom: Space Adventure / Where’s My Peacock?

Zoom: Ocean Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Sam Rennocks
Zoom: Space Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Susanna Rumiz
What on Earth Books

These are two titles in a new board-book non-fiction series for curious toddlers.

In the first we meet Noah and join him and his turtle on an ocean adventure as he takes his boat out to sea, dons his diving gear and plunges into the water.

His first location is a coral reef, a good place for a game of hide-and-seek with some fish. Next stop is a seagrass meadow with its seahorses, dugongs and a wealth of other creatures, some of which emerge from the kelp.

Danger suddenly looms in the shape of a hungry great white shark from which Noah must make a hasty escape by climbing into his submarine and diving down to the darkest depths.

There’s also a sunken pirate ship with treasure and more to discover as Noah heads for the Antarctic and an iceberg with penguins atop, made all the more dramatic by its large die-cut shape,

Indeed die-cuts are a feature of every spread and with their clever placing each one offers a different view depending on whether the page is turned forwards or back.

The Space Adventure is Ada’s and begins with her (and her cat) boarding her rocket ship and awaiting the countdown which is delivered through wordless die-cut illustrated pages shaped as the numbers 5 through to 1.

Then the rocket blasts off skywards towards the moon, docking at the International Space Station to make a delivery and for Ada to perform some urgent repairs before making a lunar landing to collect scientific samples.

Thereafter, the rocket explores the Solar System viewing all the different planets before heading home once more.

Characteristic of both, rather longer than average board books are: the surprise pop-up on the penultimate spread, the wealth of visual details in Sam Rennocks and Susanna Rumiz’s vibrant illustrations, the die-cut pages, the relatively short narrative and the fact that both Noah and Ada actually experience their journeys through their imagination.

Sturdily built, these are well worth putting into a nursery collection or adding to your toddler’s bookshelf.

Where’s My Peacock?
Becky Davies and Kate McLelland
Little Tiger

In their latest touchy-feely, hide-and-seek board book, thanks to Becky Davies’ simple repeat patterned and Kate McLelland’s alluring patterned art, toddlers can follow the trail of footprints and discover a long tailed lemur, a feathery owl and a brightly hued toucan before locating the dazzling tailed peacock that has almost, but not entirely, hidden himself away.

Tactile fun for tinies and the possibility of learning some new vocabulary.