Colours, Pretend Play, Nursery Fun and an Angry Bear

Colours
Tim Hopgood
Oxford Children’s Books

Here’s a lovely introduction to the wonderful world of colour for the very young. After presenting the primary colours with gorgeous images of the natural world, Tim Hopgood next shows the result of mixing first red and yellow, then yellow and blue, folllowed by blue and red. He then goes on to say that some things change colour during the year: a rose that’s pink in spring might fade to white in the summer, while summer’s green leaves often turn brown when autumn comes. Whereas ripening tomatoes change from green to red as the sun helps them ripen and yellow bananas, if left eventually blacken.
Best of all however is the final gatefold, opening to reveal a glorious … rainbow.

Let’s Pretend: Animal Hospital
Nicola Edwards and Thomas Elliott
Little Tiger

An animal hospital is the backdrop for young children’s role-play in this new title in the My World series. Thomas Elliott’s illustrations are a fusion of photograph and digital imagery showing the children giving a check-up to a dog, sharing the contents of a vet’s medical kit, showing the range of animals they treat and the variety of tasks they perform on pets large and small. Nicola’s narrative gives voice to the young children imagining what it might be like to be part of the team whose job is to care for the animals that visit their hospital.
This shaped-book would make a lovely addition to a role-play area in a nursery or other early years setting.

Bear & Mouse Go to Nursery
Nicola Edwards and Maria Neradova
Little Tiger

Best friends Mouse and Bear return and now they’ve started going to nursery. It’s there little humans can enjoy spending the day with them as they experiment with paint, have fun outside in the playground, share their snacks, take a nap and participate in a noisy music making session. With flaps to lift and sliders to move, this is another book of interactive fun delightfully illustrated by Maria Neradova who includes just the right amount of detail in each of her colourful spreads.

Angry Bear
Dr Naira Wilson and David Creighton-Pester
Little Tiger

Very young children, babies even, enjoy tactile books such as this one from the publisher’s Touch & Feelings series. Herein we’re introduced to Bear who on this particular morning is feeling grouchy, particularly round his middle.
perhaps keeping to his normal routine that includes some sweet tasting honey might help improve his mood unless … oops, you drop it. GRRRRR – that’s the best way to vent your anger; after which hopefully, you’ll be back to your normal calm, contented self: breathing deeply helps.
As though speaking directly to her protagonist, clinical psychologist specialising in childhood mental health, Dr Naira Wilson writes in a chatty style and the book is illustrated by David Creighton-Pester, whose pictures of the bear show the character’s range of feelings with gentle humour.

Little Tiger Board Books for Little Humans

Day and Night
Harriet Evans and Lirios Bou

There are five different locations – a temperate forest, a desert (wherein I encountered a hyrax for the first time), marshes, a savannah and a steamy tropical jungle – to visit in this ’switch-a-picture’ book, both during the daytime and then, by means of a series of tabs on each recto, at night. Thus for example in the marshes rather than the seeing “Bright dragonflies swarm through blue sunny skies,’ if the tab is pulled, these disappear from the window and are replaced by a much darker sky wherein fireflies make looping patterns. While in the jungle instead of the monkeys climbing trees that are visible in daytime, a pull of the tab reveals bats.
Innovative, and engaging, with attractive illustrations by Lirios Bou and Harriet Evans’ brief rhyming text and additional facts hidden until the tabs are tugged, this is a fun book for day or evening sharing with the very young.

I Can Learn: Dinosaurs
Lauren Crisp and Thomas Elliott

New in the publisher’s I Can Learn series, Dinosaurs has both cutaway pages and flaps. Starting at the Triassic period, then moving to the Jurassic and finally the Cretaceous period, little ones can meet a host of dinosaurs both large and small. Lauren Crisp provides the brief rhyming text and questions that accompany Elliott’s enticing illustrations of the prehistoric animals set against different colour backgrounds.
There are lots of new names to learn (pronunciation provided) and the occasional surprise such as the erupting volcano, the lava of which is only revealed when you lift the flap.

Also illustrated by Thomas Elliott is

How Many Beads?
written by Nicola Edwards

Here’s a book that offers both measuring and counting fun with the aid of the string of ten beads inserted in the back cover.
Collections of items at home, in the sea, in a garden, around town,

‘my things’ and ‘at night’ are each allocated a double spread that contains guiding questions and a wealth of labelled objects. So, little ones can try counting oysters, clownfish, rocks and starfish beneath the sea as well as finding out which of the underwater creatures is the longest. (Once they get used to using the beads for measuring, an adult might introduce the idea of estimating first.)

Plenty to engage little hands, eyes and minds here.

Play and Learn with Board Books

The Touch Book
written by Nicola Edwards
Little Tiger

Here’s a book that invites young children to “Get Hands-on! and explore texture and who could resist those paint-covered fingers of the little girl on the opening page?

In all, ten different textures are presented: fluffy, crinkly, smooth, bumpy, sticky, spongy, furry, rough, scratchy and soft, and each double spread offers three possible synonyms for the one presented. For instance, crinkly alternatives are wrinkly, ridged and ragged.

However it’s not only the sense of touch that’s being developed: ‘run your finger along something crinkly, what kind of noise does it make?’ asks the narrator; while the ‘sticky’ spread talks of sticky things being either tasty or ‘icky’ which might lead into a tasting session. Your fingertips really do stick to the tiny hexagons beneath the dripping honey so ‘tacky’ might be a good alternative though you’d definitely need to taste some honey to decide if syrupy is appropriate.

I like that little ones are invited to describe the textured patch beneath the digger – would they use ‘scratchy’ or perhaps gritty, grainy or raspy?

Full of potential learning opportunities, this sturdy book can be used either in a family or in an early years setting, perhaps as part of a larger sensory theme.

Although not sensory, to add to the overall fun, I’d suggest following up a sharing of the next book with some hands-on experiences

What Are Unicorns Made Of?
illustrated by Louise Anglicas
Little Tiger

A rhyming text guides the adult reader aloud, presenting possible answers to the titular question while Louise Anglicas’s candy-coloured illustrations showing unicorns cavorting across the countryside, through Sweetville, over the rainbow, among the trees and dancing to music offer plenty to explore.

The first consideration of unicorn-ness concerns what’s within: could they be filled with jellybeans, or perhaps ‘yummy pink popcorn?
What about their manes: marshmallow or possibly strawberry ice-cream – maybe but then neither would last long with hungry toddlers in the vicinity! Imagine unicorn rainbow tails all a-sparkle in the sun or horns alive with beautifully patterned butterflies, glittery musical hooves: the only way to discover if any of these might be part and parcel of a unicorn is to close your eyes and wish to see one – ta-da …

Animal World: I Can learn My First Colours
Lauren Crisp, illustrated by Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books (Little Tiger)

Four-line verses and images of beady-eyed animals are used to help reinforce, or perhaps introduce, the basic colours to toddlers: thus ‘Crocodile is green / with his teeth sharp and bright. / Whenever he snaps, / he will give you a fright!’ whereas ‘Giraffe is yellow / as tall as can be. / She nibbles on leaves / from high in the tree!’ In addition to the main text, along the edge of each verso asks for instance, “Who else is GREEN?’ Who else is PINK?’

The vertical rod inserted into the cover has 5 flattish cylinders, on each side of which is a small picture of an animal, so that little fingers can spin them around to discover another creature with a colour that matches the one in the main illustration.

The final spread shows a dozen butterflies each corresponding to one of the colours already featured and invites little ones to respond to two questions: “What is your favourite colour? And “What colours can you see high up in the sky?’

There’s a wealth of potential fun learning between the covers of this one.

Love, Hide-and-Seek and Night-time Board Book Style

Little Love Bug
Illustrated by Emily Dove
Chronicle Books

Author/illustrator and nature enthusiast, Emily Dove, uses a popular minbeast as the featured creature in her latest in the finger puppet series to share with babies. We see a parent and little bug spending a busy day together snuggling, meeting friends, taking a slow wander, enjoying a dance and having a goodnight hug. No matter the time of day you can find an opportunity to show your love.

Bright, cute and sturdily built for lots of reading together times.

Where’s Mrs T-Rex?
illustrated by Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

There’s a decidedly dinosaurish theme to the latest in Nosy Crow’s ever-popular felt flaps series with that final mirror that tinies love.. In this one you can introduce babies and toddlers to the four dinosaurs that are playing hide-and-seek from various minibeasts, a pterodactyl and a turtle.

It’s never too early to expose them to such names as Stegosaurus (Mr) Diplodocus (Mrs), Triceratops (Mr) and T-Tex, herein set against vibrant, patterned backgrounds. What fun!

Shhh … Good Night
Nicky Benson and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

With Nicky Benson’s gentle, rhyming text and Thomas Elliott’s gorgeously hued illustrations, this lovely book with its die-cut pages, showing a mother bird and her baby, a baby squirrel with its parent, a big and small firefly and deer, little and large, settling down for a night’s sleep, this book is a lovely way to bid little humans goodnight; they’ll surely sleep well after this dreamy meditative experience.

And if you missed the paperback version of Britta Teckentrup’s beautifully illustrated Moon, reviewed already on this blog, Little Tiger have now published a die-cut paged board book edition showing animals around the world at night-time.

Playing and Learning with Board Books

Introducing some new interactive board books from Little Tiger

Bear & Mouse Start the Day
Bear & Mouse Time for Bed

Nicola Edwards and Maria Neradova

Best friends Bear and Mouse (narrator) live together. As they Start the Day, prompted by Nicola’s simple questioning text, toddlers can help the two get up, eat breakfast, prepare to go out, take a bus ride and have fun playing in the park.

When it’s Time for Bed, just like little humans, they enjoy a splashy bath, brush their teeth, don their night attire and snuggle up together for a pre bedtime story.

Maria Neradova’s bright cheery illustrations have just the right amount of detail to keep interest levels high and interactive features in the form of flaps and sliders add to the fun.

abc nature
Nicola Edwards and Thomas Elliott

Even before little ones are at the alphabet learning or letter forming stage you can share this book with its alphabetical arrangement of natural things from acorns to zebras for naming and talking about each item using the photographic style illustrations.

They certainly won’t give any idea of relative size though: ‘earth’ is shown on the same page as ‘flower’ and they’re depicted as being roughly the same size. Nonetheless from the outset even the very youngest can be developing their visual skills and an interest in the natural world; the ‘touch and trace’ element of the book can come later.

Hide and Seek in the Forest
Rachel Elliot and Gareth Lucas

As day gives way to night, it’s bedtime for the baby animals in the forest but it seems as though they’re not quite ready to sleep. Instead Fawn, Baby Squirrel, Little Frog, Baby Rabbit and a baby owl decide to play hide-and-seek; and it’s down to little humans to help their respective parents find them hidden behind the shaped felt flaps on the five spreads.

Wait till your little humans are safely tucked up in bed before you share this jolly little book that’s aglow with Gareth Lucas’ illustrations, just in case they decide to emulate the baby animals.

My Book of Feelings
Nicola Edwards and Thomas Elliott

A range of topics, photographically illustrated, including the weather, foods, free time activities, animals, new experiences and different places are used to help young children explore their feelings.

To the same end there’s a novel feature -a double-sided emoji spinner – as well as a final mirror; however the book opens with a paragraph that includes this reminder, ‘Remember, feelings don’t always show on the outside.’ That’s something we adults probably understand but not so young children, as will the fact that our feelings are not fixed but subject to change.

In addition to being helpful for using with pre-schoolers, it might also work with slightly older children on the autism spectrum.

Books For Babies And Beyond

Ducky’s Bathtime
Lucy Cousins
Walker Books

Quack! Quack! Hooray! – it’s Ducky’s bathtime day. In a lovely squishy waterproof, wipe- clean format, this delightful Ducky adventure is totally irresistible.

Not only does it provide the perfect opportunity to introduce Lucy Cousins’ adorable Ducky to babies, they can also meet the quacky duckling’s friends including fish, ducks, frog and newt.

Who Said Woof? / Who Said Moo?
Yi-Hsuan Wu
Little Tiger

Four animals in each book make their characteristic sounds but they’ve all hidden themselves away beneath flaps depicting four other animals each with a tactile die-cut shape on its back.

So, it wasn’t Bunny who said ‘Woof!, nor Guinea Pig who said ‘Meow!; neither did Goldfish ‘Squeak!’ nor Tortoise ‘Squawk!’ but lifting each flap wlll reveal the sound-creating creatures.

As you might expect. Horse did not ’Moo!, Llama certainly didn’t ‘Baa!’, Dog definitely didn’t ‘Quack and Rabbit wasn’t responsible for that ‘Oink!’

Toddlers will enjoy discovering the hidden culprits that they’re likely already to have guessed, beneath the flaps in Yi-Hsuan Wu’s jolly illustrations.

The final spread of each book collects together the entire cast of animal characters with a question “What sound do you say?’ – anything goes!

With their predictable repeat refrains, both books are just right for older siblings beginning to read for themselves, to share with a toddler brother or sister and everyone can enjoy making the animal noises.

You Complete Me
Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

‘Better together’ (a wider, hidden meaning perhaps?) is the message in this tasty, playful, peek-a-boo board book where partnerships prove paramount.

Set against vivid backgrounds, bright, eye-catching toddler foodie favourites such as milk and cookies, and peanut butter and jelly, unite to make the point loud and clear in Thomas Elliott’s delicious die-cut piece of daftness.

With its puns and clever design, adults will savour the pleasure along with their little ones as they share this one.

Board Book Play and Learn

When I Grow Up I Want To Drive …
When I Grow Up I Want To Be …

Rosamund Lloyd and Richard Merritt
Little Tiger

Both books hide much of their brief snippets of information beneath the thirty flaps found between the covers.

The first offers 5 different vehicles – a tractor, an ambulance, a cement mixer, a recycling truck and an aeroplane each shown on the verso and then as part of an appropriate scene on the recto, while the final spread is an integral scene …

A similar pattern is used in the look at 5 possible jobs tinies might aspire to, with a representative from each introducing themselves opposite a look at the role in action. Again the places of work are all shown in the final spread.

Bright artwork by Richard Merritt shows in turn an astronaut, a teacher, an athlete, a firefighter and a doctor.

Let’s Find The Dinosaur
Let’s Find The Mermaid

illustrated by Alex Willmore
Little Tiger

Search-and-find fun with a hunt for a T.Rex in the first book, and Mermaid in the second, is given a tactile element with felt flaps and die cut pages.

As tots engage in the game of hide and seek they’ll listen to descriptive clues such as ‘T-Rex has a scaly head. Could this be T-Rex behind the leaves.’ Or ‘Mermaid has a swishy tail. Could this be Mermaid in the coral?’

Alex Willmore’s attractively patterned spreads will ensure that each game is a playful learning opportunity, while the repeat refrain textual patterning will help with word recognition if appropriate for the particular child.

Baby 101 Touch and Trace: Plant and Grow/ Build a House
Patricia Hegarty and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

Two new titles in the STEM series for toddlers take a look at horticulture and building construction.

Plant and Grow tells of the vital things needed for seeds to germinate and thrive until the crops are ready to pick and consume.

There’s a mathematical thread to Build a House with such vocabulary as basic 2D shape names and simple counting (of roof tiles) as well as a spread showing how bricks might be bonded.

Both titles have a tactile element thanks to the ‘touch-and-trace’ details built into Thomas Elliott’s illustrations on every page to  help develop the fine motor skills of little users.

Fun learning for babies and toddlers.

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.

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.