Children’s Reviews: Outside, You Notice, Sunny Days & Listen Up! Train Song

Some lovely, perfect-for-the-summer children’s book on the review docket today! Thanks to the kind folks over at Pajama Press, I have three books I will be talking about today. I will take a look at the children’s non-fiction book by Erin Alladin and Andrea Blinick called Outside, You Notice; the picture book Sunny Days by Deborah Kerbel and Miki Sato; and the picture book Listen Up! Train Song by Victoria Allenby. Happy reading to you all!

“Outside, you notice things- How after the rain everything smells greener/How lots of little noises- Birds singing/Bees buzzing/Squirrels running- Make up one big quiet”. Written by Erin Alladin and illustrated by Andrea Blinick, Outside, You Notice is a wonderful children’s non-fiction title that highlights the joys and surprises of the outdoors. Each spread features an outdoor location/space, and story text (in larger font), and smaller bubbles of informational text (usually one to two sentences per ‘bubble’). For example, in the spread featuring a child having fun with and exploring soil, readers learn about the process of decomposing, the difference in colours of soil, what soil is a mixture of, and that “scientists have found that getting spill on our skin can make humans feel happier”!. Informative, with short educational (and fascinating!) notes, Outside, You Notice is a lovely read, blending lyrical storytelling with non-fiction material. Andrea Blinick’s art- a mix of chalk pastel, collage, gouache and coloured pencils- is warm, colourful and inviting; a happy match to Erin Alladin’s conversational, friendly text. Whether used as a read aloud for an outdoor/nature theme, or used more specifically as a starting point to learn about nature in city parks, how gardens grow, the magic of soil, or about pollination (and more!), there is so much to explore and enjoy with Outside, You Notice. Back matter includes an index of outside places featured in the story as suggestions for “ways to get outside!”. Extras: Here is a link to a Teaching Guide for Outside, You Notice, available through Pajama Press’s website.

“Blazing sun- summer clothes/Freckles dot my cheeks and nose/Ocean sun: flash and glimmer/Kick and paddle, little swimmer”. Author Deborah Kerbel and illustrator Miki Sato’s Sunny Days is a beautiful follow-up to their earlier picture book collaboration Snow Days. In Sunny Days, readers follow joyful, appealing, and sweet spreads that highlight different kinds of lovely sunny day weather, and the different kinds of activities and fun things that young ones and their adults can enjoy during sunny days. As with Snow Days, Sunny Days features rich and bright short rhyming text, providing generous space for Miki Sato’s gorgeous layered, textured collage artwork to shine. This is a title that I have been sharing for nighttime read aloud with my youngest and he is just fascinated by the children characters featured in the book, and all the sunny day activities that he and they share in common! Readers who love sweet rhyming books or those who enjoy Snow Days will likely adore Sunny Days. Back matter includes sunny-weather experiments for young ones to try as well as a note about sun safety. Extras: Look forward to a new collaboration from Deborah Kerbel and Miki Sato called Windy Days, coming in October 2021!. Note: Sunny Days is published in “Toddler Tough” format: a more compact picture book size and form, with a padded cover and sturdy, slightly thicker glossy pages. Great for exploring little hands!

Canadian author Victoria Allenby’s previous title Shape Up, Construction Trucks! has been a monster hit with our youngest since it first arrived at our household, so you might imagine that we were both delighted when Allenby’s Listen Up! Train Song arrived! Opening with: “Where do the trains go? There and back” and the refrain of “Let’s sing a train song/All down the track”, Listen Up! Train Song is a happy, busy and straightforward read. Each spread features one noise/question (and a different train photo) followed by the modified refrain. For example, “How does the chime sing? Ting-a-ling! Ting-a-ling! Let’s sing a/chime song/All down the track”. The simple text format follows various train noises from a steam engine, a train crossing, an engine and more. Allenby’s book encourages participation and imagination, singing, and practicing rhyming, with detailed back matter that proffers “sound and rhythm” based activities that adults/caregivers/parents can try out with little ones. (My youngest proudly made up his own sweet train song after a few reads of this title!). Listen Up! Train Song is a solid, participatory read, and a highly recommended companion title for any young readers who love transportation or train books, or who have loved Shape Up, Construction Trucks!. Note: Listen Up! Train Song is published in “Toddler Tough” format: a more compact picture book size and form, with a padded cover and sturdy, slightly thicker glossy pages. Great for exploring little hands!

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Pajama Press in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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