Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Book Birthday: Who Eats Orange?

Who Eats Orange?, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Robin Page, (Aug. 2018, Simon & Schuster Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781534404083

Ages 3-6

Need a fun, new concept book on your shelves? Who Eats Orange looks at the eating habits of animals from bunnies to bears. Four animals eat one color, and the fifth doesn’t – but eats a different color, which brings us into the next group of animals. There’s quite a bit of information, broken down into simple, easily understandable bites, to be found here: colors, animals and what they eat, and their habitats: “Who eats orange? Bunnies in their hutches do. / Chickens in the henhouse too. / Who else eats orange? Goats. / Pigs. Gorillas too. Gorillas? NO! The repetitive text pattern gets kids ready; they’ll learn quickly who doesn’t eat a chosen color, and join in with a hearty “NO!” when the time comes. The text brings things right back to kids, encouraging them to eat the rainbow, with a colorful spread of fruits and vegetables. The back matter organizes the animals, and their foods, by habitat (farm, Africa, ocean, forest, rainforest, tundra) and provides more information on animals and their culinary tastes.

The digital art is wonderful; reminiscent of one of my favorite realistic animal artists, Steve Jenkins. (Robin Page also dedicates the book to Steve Jenkins, which was pretty great to see.) The vivid artwork stand out against stark white backgrounds, inviting readers to imagine the roughness of a hippo or the bushy fur of a fox and marmot. The faces are gentle, with expressive eyes that will draw storytime fans right in. It’s such an interactive book, with opportunities to get the kids talking about animals, food, and color. There’s an activity kit available for download that comes with animals masks to cut out, a rainbow recipe, and writing activities.

I read Who Eats Orange, along with one of my old favorites, Who Hops?, to my 6-year-old. Who Hops? works in a similar manner, introducing different animals who hop, swim, crawl… and then one animal that obviously cannot! Anyway, we had big laughs, he pronounced Who Eats Orange “so much fun”, and laughed at me when I suggested he start eating the rainbow with me. Hey, I tried.

Who Eats Orange is way too much fun for toddlers and preschoolers! A fun add to concepts and animal collections, and a good gift book for rising preschoolers and kindergarteners.

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Posted in Non-Fiction

My Wild Activity Book is BIG fun for kids!

My First Wild Activity Book, by Maxime Lebrun, (Jan. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626869578

Ages 4+

This activity book on animals and their habitats is packed with things to do and make! Inviting kids on an adventure, the book begins with a challenge: take a journey through seven habitats around the world, and offers kids the chance to write their own profiles and draw a self-portrait. From there, the game is on! Readers can work their way through the seven habitats: rain forests, deserts, oceans, the mountains, forests, the savanna, and the polar ice by enjoying search and find activities across fold-out spreads, mazes, connect-the-dots and matching games, coloring sheets, and spot the difference challenges. There are loads of facts throughout the book, and each habitat offers a “think outside of the book” activity that parents, caregivers, and educators can enjoy with the kiddos! Sticker badges for each habitat add a little passport-y punch to the book, and two pages of animal stickers (seriously, so. many. stickers) lets readers go wild on the spreads, or, if you’ve got a kid like mine, his bed, the walls in his room, and, in one case, my laptop.

My son went through this book in just shy of a day and a half, and that’s only because I begged for mercy to make dinner when he was halfway through. We had a great time working on these activities and coloring the pages together, and our next step is to work on a few of the “outside of the book” activities: should we make a leaf collage first, or liberate some of our renegade socks, to make a snake? Maybe we’ll go for the paper plate aquarium! This one is absolute fun for families, and the projects are great for a STEM or Discovery Club at the library or in school. It’s a fun way to enhance natural science learning.

There’s a free maze and “spot the differences” printable at Silver Dolphin’s website. Enjoy!

Posted in picture books

Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move!

Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move!, by Anna Wright, (July 2018, Faber & Faber), $17.95, ISBN: 9780571330683

Ages 5-10

If you have readers who love beautiful illustration, this is a book for them (and you). Anna Wright’s Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move is all about beautiful design and illustrating movement and texture. Featuring 12 animals, from sea turtles and springboks, to Monarch butterflies and fireflies, each spread contains a brief explanatory paragraph on each animal, but the real star is the pen and ink illustration, enhanced with textiles to create stunning art. Springboks roam the African plains with striped and floral fabric bodies; checkered, chevroned, and polka dotted zebras spread out in search of food. Southern Carmine bee-eaters have a hint of gold crowning their feathered heads, and fireflies dance with gold leaf wings.

The art is beautiful and begs kids to use their own imagination, plus any scrapbooking paper, fabric, yarn, or ribbon you may have in your craft boxes, to create animals of their own. Could be a fun Summer Reading challenge! The text is easy to read and would be a nice, eye-catching addition to an animal storytime. There are some great, unique facts about each animal, too: every zebra’s stripe pattern is unique, like a human fingerprint; herring can swim in a school of up to 3 billion!

Pair this one with Helen Aphornsiri’s Drawn from Nature to let readers explore nature through artwork – from nature. Pair paper with leaves, flowers, sticks, and fabric to come up with 2-D and 3-D creations. Let your minds run wild! Get some more inspiration from Anna Wright’s website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Doesn’t matter what you think you see, Lulu is a Rhinoceros.

Lulu is a Rhinoceros, by Jason Flom & Allison Flom/Illustrated by Sophie Corrigan, (June 2018, Wicked Cow Studios), $16.99, ISBN: 9780692070987

Ages 4-7

Lulu may look like an bulldog to you and me, but when she looks in the mirror, she sees a rhinoceros. In her heart, her fluffy, soft fur is really thick skin, and her nubby little tail is actually whiplike. The only thing she needs is a horn: then everyone will know she’s really a rhino! But as she searches for her horn, others laugh at her and cruelly mock her; her Cinderella-like search for the perfect horn takes a few sweet, giggle-worthy turns, especially at the ice cream cart. When Lulu wanders into a rhino enclosure at a zoo, she meets a friend who uses common sense to see her for who she is, and they come together to form a mutually beneficial, wonderful, friendship.

This sweet story is perfect for everyone: in addition to addressing gender identity, Lulu speaks to readers who don’t feel like they quite fit in; readers who don’t want to go with the crowd. The message is strong: be true to yourself. It also extols the virtue of finding – or being – that one friend who can see through the exterior to who you are inside. The softly drawn artwork has muted colors, bringing a sense of calm to the story and allows readers to focus on Lulu’s internal dialogue. The story addresses social issues like introspection, friendship, social issues, tolerance, and yes, gender identity, and I love it. A portion of all the proceeds from sales of Lulu is a Rhinoceros are being donated to the African Wildlife Foundation to help protect Africa’s endangered wildlife and their habitat, so you’re doing two good deeds by buying the book! There’s an interview with authors Jason and Allison Flom (with real-life Lulu!) on the African Wildlife Foundation’s webpage. Pair this one with Bow-Wow Meow, by Blanca Lacasa.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Not Yet, Zebra! is a study in the alphabet and patience

Not Yet, Zebra!, by Lou Kuenzler/Illustrated by Julia Woolf, (June 2018, Faber & Faber), $16.95, ISBN: 978-0-571-34288-4

Recommended for readers 3-5

Little Annie wants to paint the alphabet, so her animal friends line up in alphabetical order. Except for Zebra, whose impatience results in adorable hijinks. This sweet rhyming alphabet story wanders through animal ABCs: aardvarks and bears, elephants and flamingos, gorillas and hamsters; Zebra pops up throughout the story, trying to pass for an earlier letter in the alphabet by donning animal disguises. When Annie finally gets to Z, poor Zebra is fast asleep! Well… tomorrow is another day, right, Zebra?

This is an adorable abecedary for preschoolers and kindergarteners, who will relate to the impatience of having to wait one’s turn. Zebra gives the saddest eyes, the nudgiest nudges, and the most creative disguises, all in an attempt to wheedle his way to the front of the line, but Annie catches our wily friend every time. This one’s fun to read aloud, and would make a great companion to my other favorite impatient friend, The Pigeon.

The endpapers feature our Zebra friend, contorting himself into all the letters in the alphabet, and the artwork is colorful and cartoony, nicely set against the subdued background pages. I’m always up for a good concept book for my collection; something that gets the ideas covered, but with a little fun; something that brings some personality to the narrative. Not Yet, Zebra brings the giggles, for sure.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bear and Wolf: A tale of two friends

Bear and Wolf, by Daniel Salmieri, (Feb. 2018, Enchanted Lion), $17.95, ISBN: 9781592702381

Recommended for readers 4-8

Bear and Wolf discover one another walking through the snow one day; they wander together, enjoying the sights and sounds of the snowy forest, glancing at an owl flying overhead, and peering into a frozen lake to see the sleeping fish. They part so Bear can hibernate in his den, and Wolf can run with his pack. When Spring returns, the friends reunite across the green forest.

With cool color shades to welcome winter and warm earth colors to celebrate spring, Bear and Wolf is less a story about seasons than about renewal: of friendship and of nature. It also honors the joy of taking one’s time, noticing the details, enjoying the journey. The gouache, watercolor, and crushed colored pencil artwork provides texture and yet, is soft and comforting. Bear and Wolf is a serene story that is nicely paired with books like Tiny, Perfect Things or The Magic Garden. A must-add to storytime shelves.

Bear and Wolf has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, and is on my Caldecott shortlist.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Lola Dutch is just TOO MUCH!

Lola Dutch, by Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright, (Jan. 2018, Bloomsbury USA), $17.99, ISBN: 9781681195513

Recommended for readers 3-7

Lola Dutch is a little girl whose life motto may well be, “Go big or go home”. She starts her day by sliding down the bannister of a grand stairway, landing on her cushy friend, Bear’s, belly. She is bursting with ideas, and this is going to be an AMAZING day. She has grand ideas for breakfast, which turns into a several course meal for Lola and her animal friends, Gator, Pig, and Crane; a trip to the library for some “light reading” yields a Herculean amount of books. Lola’s inspired to create art, and begins producing work that the masters would be cowed by, including a Sistine Chapel-esque work on her ceiling, starring Lola and friends. At bedtime, seems overwhelmed. Everything’s quiet for the night, but Gator’s got cold feet, Pig is snoring, and Crane kicks in her sleep. Frazzled, Lola cries out, “This is ALL TOO MUCH!” and wants something simple and comforting: a hug from Bear.

We all have a little Lola in us, don’t we? I know I get those moments where I want to READ ALL THE BOOKS and end up reserving 5 books, which will sit on the pile I have at home; from there, I’ll want to straighten up all my bookshelves, and to do that, empty all the shelves on the floor so I can go through them, which will inevitably end up with me, sidetracked, coming back hours later to just shove everything on the shelves until the next time I get inspiration. Lola’s friend Bear is her guardian, and knows his charge too well: he takes a deep breath at breakfast, and often repeats the phrase this book is built on: “you are a little bit much”. At the end of the day, though, it’s a warm hug that’s all Lola really needs.

Lola Dutch is cute, if a bit manic; she just has a lot of energy to devote to each day. The pencil, gouache, and watercolor artwork is soft, largely pink, and has lots of kid appeal. Endpapers spotlight Lola sitting on the windowsill, reading (under Bear’s watchful eye, below) and using a telescope, and the cover of the book converts into a dollhouse that kids can play with; the back flap comes with paper dolls of Lola and Bear to cut out and play with. There are great extras on the Lola Dutch webpage, including paper dolls of Crane, Gator, and Pig; a coloring sheet, and a book hunt challenge and certificate (psst… good for Summer Reading programs at the library).