30 October 2011

What Am I? books

Tonight I have three of the "My Look and See" books by Anne Margaret Lewis in front of me: What Am I?: Halloween, What Am I?: Christmas and What Am I?: Illinois.

Each book follows the same format. A two page spread with a flap covering the majority of the right page presents a "riddle." For example, from What Am I?: Halloween - "I am covered in fur. / I have big ears and very good hearing. / I love to dangle upside down." This is the text that appears on the left page, along with part of the illustration, a spooky house and what may be ... a wing? A black flap on the opposite page asks, "What am I? What could I be?" When the flap is lifted, the rest of the illustration reveals, "I am a funny bat. That's me!" The final two-page spread shows all the Halloween symbols together - an owl, trick-or-treaters, the aforementioned bat, etc.

What Am I?: Christmas includes primarily secular images, including Santa Claus. Interestingly, it also includes a "Christmas Angel," which might lead to a question from a wee one at storytime, so if you're using it in a public program or maybe the classroom and you're squeamish about that kind of thing, be aware.

What Am I?: Illinois includes such favorites as Sue (the Field Museum T. Rex), the state insect, tree, amphibian and more. (Wondering what the state amphibian is? You're gonna have to go get the book!)

All three books are boldly illustrated by Tom Mills. The pictures are straightforward with just enough of the "answer" peeking out from under the flap that a preschooler has a good chance of guessing the correct answer to each "What Am I? What Could I Be?"

Overall, I really liked these books. I can see them as a great addition to a preschool storytime at the library or in a classroom. They would also be fun to share at home with your favorite little person. After reading one of these books together, you could even team up to create your own "My Look and See" book, maybe about your family or neighborhood!

disclaimer: The books reviewed in this post were sent to me by Albert Whitman & Company to review for this blog. I read all the books and all opinions expressed here are my own.

28 October 2011

A Trio of Board Books

Despite my lack of blogging, I have been reading. Not a lot, but some. I had a long list of books I had read that I meant to review, but I have given up hope of catching up. It's been so long (and my brain is currently a bit addled by Baby) that I'd really have to re-read a bunch. So, a fresh start.

Lucky for me (and you!), Albert Whitman has again sent e a box of books for review. I have divided them into loose groupings and hope to post reviews regularly until I have finished with this box.

Tonight, I'll look at the three board books we got. I read all three of them to my 4-month-old, multiple times. He seemed to like them but, then again, he seems to like every book I show him. He's 4 months old. Every book is a revelation.

First up is The Baby Goes Beep, written by Rebecca O'Connell and charmingly illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max. Can I just go on record saying that I always like Ken Wilson-Max's work? His bright colors and bold lines are absolutely perfect for the pre-reading audience this book is meant for. The text is simple ("The baby goes beep  the baby goes beep beep beep beep"), with each action occurring over a two-page spread. the first page shos the baby alone - beeping a toy car horn, for example. The second page shows the baby repeating the action with an adult; in the first case, beeping his Daddy's nose. Max giggled when I "beeped" his nose as I read (and especially when we got to "The baby goes smooch"). This book invites interaction between a caregiver and child. It could also be a great read-aloud for an infant lapsit program or toddler storytime.

Also by Rebecca O'Connell (this time illustrated by Amanda Guilliver), is Done with Diapers: A Potty ABC (also published as Danny is...). This larger board book is clearly for a slightly older set than The Baby Goes Beep. Each page features a picture of a child in one phase of potty training or another. The illustrations are cheerful - bright, warm colors and lots of white space. I also appreciate that the children possess a wide range of skin and hair tones. Under the illustration is a red sentence, beginning with the relevant letter: "C is for Clean." Each page's theme is expounded on briefly: "Clap for Caleb! He pooped in the potty and kept his clothes clean." Notice all the C's in that sentence: clap, Caleb, clothes, clean. Besides being a cheerful book to encourage little one embarking on potty-training, this title is also a very fuunctional alphabet book. Can't wait for Max for be really ready to share this one!

Finally for this evening, we have This Tree, 1, 2, 3 written by Alison Formento and illustrated by Sarah Snow. Of the three board books, this is the one I am most conflicted about. I like it, but something keeps me from loving it. Having read it aloud a number of times now, I think it is the framing around the "counting" portion of the book. It begins: "A tall tree stood behind Oak Lane School. It had a story to tell." Two pages later, we begin counting: "1 owl waits for the moon,' etc. It ends with, "Jake said, 'This tree counts!'" I see that this is an abridged board book edition of a (presumably) longer picture book; in my opinion, it would have worked better as a straight counting book. The animals on each page are fun to find and couont and the art has a kind of retro feel to it, rather like picture books I found in the school library as a child. I will definitely keep this book to share with my boy, but I would like the book much better if it had been abridged just a smidge more.

Thanks again, Albert Whitman, for some great books!

disclaimer: The books reviewed in this post were sent to me by Albert Whitman & Company to review for this blog. I read all the books and all opinions expressed here are my own.

I've been busy...

...with this little knucklehead:

He's pretty cool and we've decided to keep him, but he also eats up an enormous amount of time. Now that he's getting a little older, I hope to be able to steal away a few moments here and there to blog more.

(Besides, I owe Albert Whitman a host of book reviews! Eek!)

All the time "lost" has been worth it though...