Board Book Look: Titles from Xavier Deneux, Joyce Wan, Christopher Silas Neal & more!

A while back, I realized I had fallen rather behind on posting about board books! So, here’s a look at some the standout board books I have read and enjoyed over the last few months. Most all I have shared as read alouds with my littlest one, as well as with my three year old to pretty solid acclaim; some have already been featured on my Twitter feed! Some, such as the titles by Xavier Deneux, Joyce Wan, Molly Idle, Matthew Van Fleet, Janik Coat, Becky Davies and Gareth Lucas, or Yujin Shin are more interactive; these are innovative titles featuring pull tabs, fold out pages, fun tactile surfaces- standout ways to get kids involved in the reading process. Deneux’s books also feature grouped vocabulary; for example, in Little Critters, the words featured on the ‘spider’ and ‘fly’ page go from animal parts (legs, abdomen) to action verbs (weaving, spinning). Some, like the ones by Eric Carle and Lois Ehlert are, quite simply, beautiful, vital classics for learning and exploration that I was so happy to reread and rediscover. The board book titles by Christopher Silas Neal are knockouts, with very clever wordplay and concept learning (shapes and colours), all highlighting his unique illustrative style (my three year old was positively cackling while we read together). For Canadian loveliness, or unicorn joy, or an all-around delightful story, there are titles by Trish Madson and David W. Miles, Dana Simpson, and Sandra Boynton and George Booth, respectively. (Note: For double the unicorn awesomeness, pair My Magical Unicorn with Today I’ll Be a Unicorn!)

 

Here, George! by Sandra Boynton, illus. George Booth
The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s ABC by Eric Carle
Llamaphones by Janik Coat
Peekaboo Pals: A to Z by Becky Davies, art by Gareth Lucas*
TouchThinkLearn: Little Critters by Xavier Deneux*
TouchThinkLearn: Wild Animals by Xavier Deneux*
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Lick!: Mini Board Book by Matthew Van Fleet
Flora and the Ostrich: An Opposites Book by Molly Idle (Flora’s Board Books) by Molly Idle*
C Is for Canada: A Canuck ABC Primer by Trish Madson, illus. David W. Miles*
Animal Colors by Christopher Silas Neal
Animal Shapes by Christopher Silas Neal
My Magical Unicorn by Yujin Shin
Today I’ll Be a Unicorn by Dana Simpson
Count My Cupcakes 123 by Joyce Wan

*These titles were received courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own.

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Picture Book Reviews: Ta-Da! & We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Changing Picture Book

Ta-Da! by Kathy Ellen Davis, illus. Kaylani Juanita
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: June 26, 2018 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

What makes a good story? One little girl thinks it’s a princess with magic powers that can (ta-da!) overcome any obstacle. Her friend thinks it’s (dun dun duh!) a host of dragons, pirates, and volcanos that cause total chaos. But as each of their stories intertwine and interact, these two young storytellers soon learn that a good story needs both destruction and triumph, conflict and resolution. Ta-Da! is an irresistible celebration of imagination, storytelling, and the joys of collaboration.

If you are in the mood for a very fun, totally appealing, winningly illustrated picture book, Ta-Da! might be the perfect pick for you. The picture book debut of both author Kathy Ellen Davis and illustrator/artist Kaylani Juanita, Ta-Da! features a young duo of friends who have pretty different takes on what makes a story good. The young girl in Ta-Da!– with the help of her gallant and amenable little dog- likes to use “Ta-Da!” to make story turns like scary fire-breathing dragons into kind dragons that fly “away into the sunset”. The girl’s friend, on the other hand, relishes the use of “Dun Dun Duh!” to make pirates attack and take prisoners, and have people living “horrible ever after”. Readers see one wonderfully imagined scenario after another, with the young friends going back-and-forth, ta-da-ing and dun-dun-duh-ing, fixing or putting the kibosh on the others’ imagined scene after imagined scene. But after one big flourish of a ta-da! that erases the young boy’s attempts to shake up the story with conflict, the young boy says “never mind” and walks off. At first, the young girl thinks how perfectly smooth and calm things are, how lovely the happily ever after is…until it’s really…not! Is there a way for the two friends to make their different approaches to storytelling work so that they can both have a good time…together? A truly fun, engaging story start to finish with delightfully vibrant full-page illustrations (I am IN LOVE with Juanita’s artwork!) that emphasizes collaboration (and highlights the utter magic of stories and make-believe!), Ta-Da! is a treat for an enthusiastic read-aloud, as well as for quiet reading exploration. Beware, though, you might just have too much fun exclaiming “TA-DA!” and “DUN DUN DUH!”! What a terrific debut; I hope we see more children’s lit from Kathy Ellen Davis and Kaylani Juanita!

Image from Ta-Da! via Amazon Japan

 

Image from Ta-Da! via Amazon Japan

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Changing Picture Book by Michael Rosen, illus. Helen Oxenbury
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. Thank you!
Publication: May 22, 2018 by Candlewick Entertainment
Book Description:

Bear lovers rejoice! Pull the tabs and watch the pictures transform in an interactive edition of the award-winning classic.

Follow and join in the family’s excitement as they wade through the grass, splash through the river, and squelch through the mud in search of a bear. Pull the tabs to change the pictures along the way — we’re going to catch a big one!

“We’re going on a bear hunt.
We’re going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We’re not scared.

Uh-oh!…”

And so begins the arguably well-known, much-recited and often-read classic (from 1989!) We’re Going on Bear Hunt, by prolific author Michael Rosen, illustrated by celebrated illustrator Helen Oxenbury. This “changing picture book” edition is an innovative version of the classic picture book, with pull tabs that slowly transform a page’s inset black and white image into a colour image that magically blends into the full-colour page it is nestled in. I personally love this interactive element to the story; it brings a fun freshness to this classic! I have seen how my three year-old has been absolutely adoring this particular edition: now you’re not just working with the catchy refrain and fun noises to mimic, you also have the addition of the tabs which add an interactive, playful element for children, getting them even more into the story. This is great interactive and fun edition of a classic!

 

 

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Picture Book Reviews: Color Blocked & Give Me Back My Book!

Color Blocked by Ashley Sorenson, illus. David Miles
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: April 4, 2017 by Familius
Book Description:

The color is blocked! Readers must rub, turn, and tap the pages to straighten out pipes, unplug corks, and keep the color flowing. But watch out – the color might run faster than you can keep up! Along the way, readers will learn primary colors, how mixing colors can make secondary colors, and why you should never, ever, put too much trust in a narrator.

If you ever use stories such as Press Here, Please, Open This Book!, A Perfectly Messed-Up Story, Tap the Magic Tree, or any kind of delightful, interactive picture book for a read aloud and/or storytime, then you might want to add Color Blocked to your list! This picture book, written by Ashley Sorenson and vibrantly illustrated by David Miles, is another fun, perfect-for-read-aloud picture book to add to your repertoire. Color Blocked works well as the storytelling approach is appropriately straightforward, allowing for the hands-on aspects of the story to really take center stage.

Readers are immediately taken into a colourful world when everything goes black and white! ‘Uh-oh. Color’s blocked!’; readers are then asked to ‘gently shake this book from side to side to unclog the pipe’. From there, we’re taken on a fun, hands-on journey (along with a committed turtle as our guide), as we try to unclog and untwist pipes- all the while learning about creating colours from mixing different shades. Color Blocked will work very well as a read aloud pick as the storytelling approach is appropriately straightforward, allowing for the hands-on aspects of the story to really take center stage. A truly fun book that I think will go over very well for preschool-age storytimes and up, Color Blocked is an unpretentious, enjoyable reading experience that begs to be shared and experienced with and by young readers.

 

Give Me Back My Book! by Travis Foster & Ethan Long
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: September 5, 2017 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

This book is full of wonderful WORDS and beautiful PICTURES! And it’s EXCITING! And it’s FUNNY! It might be the BEST BOOK EVER-if we could decide whose book it is. Redd and Bloo explore the way a book is made and accidentally build a friendship, too, in this tale told only in dialogue. Travis Foster and Ethan Long offer a hilarious story about the joy of reading, which brings people together in unexpected ways, proving that each book truly belongs to . . . the people who love it.

If you are already familiar with Ethan Long’s zany and jolly approach to storytelling (Fright Club, Pig Has a Plan and numerous other popular titles!), then you might already be aware of the kind of story you might be getting here with Give Me Back My Book! Co-authored with illustrator Travis Foster, Give Me Back My Book! is a conversational-based picture book with a wacky, farcical edge.

Friends Redd and Bloo experience a bump in the relationship when Bloo discovers that Redd might have just taken his favourite green book. Alas, Redd, in a truly stubborn fashion that exasperates Bloo tremendously, refuses to give back the green book- until it is snatched away from them both by a sly, hat-wearing worm named Bookworm. Redd and Bloo then must come together to ‘bait’ Bookworm: by creating the most fascinating, captivating new book to make Bookworm return the stolen green book. Give Me Back My Book! relies, as Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie titles do, on speech bubbles/character dialogue to carry the entire story. While this format can be tricky, it actually works well here as the back-and-forth is pretty straightforward, clearly delineated- not to mention that the bright and funny illustrations more than perfectly highlight the key moments of the story! I have had the opportunity to read this story multiple times now, and I find that it grows on me more and more each time I read it. I think for an older, willing, and receptive storytime audience (Kindergarten-age, perhaps and above) might especially appreciate the farcical nature of the story; but it’s also wholly enjoyable as a story experienced in pairs or smaller groups! Altogether, a totally entertaining read from the team of Foster and Long that fans of authors such as Ed Vere, Mo Willems, Ame Dyckman, or Jan Thomas might flock to.

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own.

Picture Book Review: Say Zoop! by Hervé Tullet

An awesomely fun, interactive picture book here on the review docket!

Say Zoop! by Hervé Tullet
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: August 1, 2017 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

Make some noise! Shout OH!” Whisper “oh!” Say “Zoop”? Yes! “Zoop!” “Zoop!” “Zoop!” The newest book from Herve Tullet magically responds with bursts of color and moving shapes, empowering children by letting their imaginations liberate and direct each page’s reaction. Tullet’s books define the genre of participatory bookmaking, encouraging readers to explore and interact with the physical book in all its dimensions. The reward is tremendous: a journey of whimsy and sheer fun that extends well beyond the book’s pages. In this worthy and exhilarating companion to the bestselling trio launched with Press Here, Tullet’s beloved dots will have readers literally “Ooh”-ing and “Ahh”-ing out loud in a happy collective encore.”

 

Since reading and falling in love with Hervé Tullet‘s brilliant, storytime game-changer Press Here, I’ve been a HUGE fan/appreciator of interactive picture books- and of Tullet’s work! While I would argue that Tullet’s post-Press Here works haven’t quite reached the epic storytime status or incredible effortlessness of his smash bestseller, his work is always cause for celebration, wonder and awe. Say Zoop!, Tullet’s latest, is wonderfully fun, thoughtful, engaging interactive picture book that begs for multiple reads and multiple explorations.

Say Zoop! is a book of sounds, shapes, colours, movement- and like Tullet’s previous work, relies on reader (and/or storyteller) whimsy and imagination. The picture book begins with the question: ‘Hi! Are you really sure you want to play?’ and a simple blue dot above; the reader then turns the page (after answering YES, I hope!) and is asked to put their finger on the blue dot and say ‘OH!’. From there, readers are taken on part one of a merry, busy, journey with the blue dots: of saying everything from loud, huge OH’s, to softer, smaller OH’s, counting OH’s, multiple OH’s, and shivering OH’s. Lest you think Tullet would let readers off with just deceptively simple OH’s and blue dots, you would be mistaken, for we are then introduced to new friends including a red dot (AH!) and a yellow sun-like dot (WAHOO!), and more intricate word/sound/shape play.

Busy, fun, hard-to-put-down and utterly delightful, Tullet absolutely has another picture book winner here with Say Zoop!.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

#PlayTestShare: Spring Break Fun and Giveaway!

Happy (almost) Spring Break!

I am delighted to be hosting a second year of a special Spring Break Fun giveaway, courtesy of the lovely and generous folks at Raincoast Books!

Open to Canadian residents, ages 18 and up, one lucky person will have the chance to win one of the amazing #PlayTestShare items below! I had the chance to play and test out the TouchThinkLearn Fly!
 book as well as the gorgeous Towering Tree Puzzle
, so you will see some photos and get my thoughts on those two items. Read on for even more information about all the #PlayTestShare items on offer and how to enter the giveaway!

TouchThinkLearn Fly!

A deceptively simple and joyful celebration of the natural cycle of life, this book adds the bonus of removable-and movable-characters and scenery to the bestselling TouchThinkLearn format, featuring the hallmark production technique of glued-on pieces dovetailing with die-cut openings. In this first narrative title in the series, the movable pieces invite and involve the reader in a meaningful and multisensory participation in the story.

My kingdom for interactive stories! I am a big fan of interactive board books and picture books. In my work as a children’s librarian and as a mom to a toddler, interactive books are a go-to resource. They engage, surprise, delight and let children (and adults!) have a different kind of fun with books. I already own a number of TouchThinkLearn board books- I just adore Xavier Deneux’s bold, clean and vibrant artwork- so I couldn’t wait to see and play with this movable book. Happily, I can say that this is another big winner! The addition of removable pieces- moving from one side of the board book and fitting to the facing page cut outs- just adds MORE to this life-cycle based story and promises that kids will be extra curious and tickled by the story (and experience). To me, these kinds of books are magical and captivating!

Towering Tree Puzzle

Join adorable critters as they navigate the seasons and make new friends in their towering tree. Imaginative play and puzzle logic intersect as each interlocking branch of this innovative puzzle tells a new story, providing hours of entertainment. Adventure is just a branch away!

With artwork by Teagan White (author-illustrator of the enchanting picture book Adventures with Barefoot Critters and others), the Towering Tree Puzzle is a a beautiful, worthy of a displaying on a wall kind of puzzle. Unique in design and structure, this puzzle will likely delight with how many ways there are to put it together! Unlike more traditional puzzles where pieces only fit exact spots, this tree puzzle allows for a little more freedom and little more creative play as you can fit shaped pieces in multiple spots! You can make up stories about Teagan White’s utterly charming animals, their habitat, or you can just have fun building, rebuilding, and rebuilding with the seventeen double-sided pieces (yes, double-sided!). Such a wonderful and unusual idea for a puzzle- love this one so much!

The rest of the terrific #PlayTestShare items:

The Ultimate Book of Cities

Where does the Express bus take you? How many swans are in the lake at the park? The Ultimate Book of Cities reveals the answers to these questions and much, much more in an oversized fact- and action-packed look at life in the big city! Featuring 59 flaps, pop-ups, pull tabs and movable parts, this all-you-need-to-know guide provides detailed information about what makes a city tick: from the different ways of getting around and what goes on in all the big buildings, to what traffic signs mean and who are all the people who keep the city in tip-top shape!

Birds of the World Nature Sticker Activity Book

Beautifully illustrated by Olivia Cosneau, Birds of the World introduces aspiring ornithologists to these and other fun facts through a range of coloring activities, removable stickers, and a short quiz. In the process, children learn about the rich variety of birds living in our world, including nightingales, swallows, hummingbirds, pelicans, penguins, parrots, toucans, and flamingos, among others.

Quicktionary

Introducing a new, fast-paced casual card game for word lovers and anyone who loves to think on their feet. Simple to learn, with nearly endless possibilities, this free-for-all game is a fun addition to any game night.

Crystal Menagerie Coloring Book

This fresh new coloring book renders foxes, birds, hedgehogs, and more with a prismatic look that makes them as cool to display as they are pleasing to color. With just the right level of detail, these unique designs can easily be completed in one sitting if so desired, but those who want a more involved coloring session can opt for a 3-dimensional look-and make these animals leap off the page.

Space Playing Cards
Launch into your favorite card games while immersing yourself in deep space! Each playing card features extraordinary NASA photography and two Pantone colors on beautifully designed card backs. Includes a complete 52-card playing deck, plus 2 jokers.

Mighty, Mighty Construction Site
From the team behind the beloved international bestseller comes a companion to Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. All of our favorite trucks are back on the construction site-this time with a focus on team-building, friendship, and working together to make a big task seem small! Down in the big construction site, the crew faces their biggest job yet, and will need the help of new construction friends to get it done. The millions of fans of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site are in for a mighty good time!

642 Things About Me: Young Writer’s and Artist’s Edition
A new offering in the wildly popular 642 series, this unique journal encourages young creators to dive deep into the subject they know best-themselves! Packed with quirky, thought-provoking, and imaginative drawing and writing prompts, 642 Things About Me: Young Writer’s & Artist’s Edition is a fun way for kids to document their lives, jump-start their creative talent, and produce a memorable keepsake-or the first draft of their bestselling memoir.

Old MacDonald Had a Truck Bingo

A classic family-friendly game gets revved up with a winning combination of construction vehicles and farm animals, featuring artwork from the picture book Old MacDonald Had a Truck . With six illustrated, double-sided game boards plus a set of colorful bingo calling cards and chips, this easy-to-learn game is sure to be a hit at any playdate or family game night.

Giveaway Info:

The contest is open to Canadian residents only, and entrants must be aged 18 and up. The contest will run from March 9, 2017 until March 16, 2017. One winner will be randomly selected at the end of giveaway via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond by emailing me at fabbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com, confirming their name, their mailing address, and their ONE (1) giveaway prize pick.

Enter by clicking on the following link to Rafflecopter and follow the instructions to enter:

Click here to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter!

Giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to AMY H.!

The winner has 48 hours to email me with their prize pick and Canadian mailing address, or another winner will be chosen.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated.

 

I received copies of TouchThinkLearn Fly! and Towering Tree Puzzle from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review and for the purposes of this giveaway. Thank you! Opinions and comments regarding the titles are my own. Prizes provided by Raincoast Books.

Spring Break Fun and Giveaway! #PlayTestShare

Happy Spring Break!

I am delighted to be hosting a special Spring Break Fun giveaway, courtesy of the lovely and generous folks at Raincoast Books!

Open to Canadian residents, ages 18 and up, one lucky person will have the chance to win one of the amazing #PlayTestShare items below! I had the pleasure of playing with and testing out an interactive board book called ABC Word Play and a Flora and Friends Matching Game, and I get to share my impressions- and some pictures- with you! Read on even more information about all the #PlayTestShare items on offer and how to enter the giveaway.

 

ABCABC Word Play (Chronicle Books)
A hands-on alphabet extravaganza! The letters of the alphabet come to life in this bright, graphic, and delightfully interactive ABC novelty board book that pairs early learning with captivating play. Just punch out the oversize neon letters and assemble the simple words featured on each spread, or spell new words. It’s the perfect way to play, spell, and learn, from A to Z!

I had such a fun time trying out this bright and beautiful book! When my eighteen month old saw it she said (and I quote): WOWWWW! She proceeded to help me punch out all of the letters in the book and uttered another WOW at the end. Not only easy on hands and fingers (both big and little), but also meticulously and artfully crafted, this game was a real treat to test out. As you can see in a picture below, the pages with punch out letters, face a page full of suggested words to spell out.  Sturdy, engaging, vivid as well as educational and fun- a big thumbs up to the ABC Word Play game!

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Flora

Flora and Friends Matching Game (Chronicle Books)
From the Caldecott Honor Book Flora and the Flamingo, and the two follow-up books, Flora and the Penguin and Flora and the Peacocks, this classic memory game stars Flora and her feathered friends! Delightful storytelling and artwork from Molly Idle celebrate the joy of friendship, all while building memory, concentration, and matching skills.

Bookish confession time here: I am a huge fan of Molly Idle’s picture books and thus a huge fan of her artwork. When I saw that there was a matching game for kids with Flora illustrations…Well, to borrow from Friends funnyman Chandler Bing, could things BE any better? Let me tell you, this matching game lived up to my expectations. With larger-size playing cards than I have seen in the majority of matching games, Idle’s magnificent artwork of Flora and her animal friends just glows. My daughter toddled over to take a look and was immediately fixated on the drawings. Another WOOWWWW was uttered! A special treat for lovers of Idle’s books and art, and a treat for anyone looking for a stand-out and stylish matching game, the Flora and Friends Matching Game is aces.

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Read on for more #PlayTestShare and how to enter the giveaway…

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