Review of 8: An Animal Alphabet, by Elisha Cooper

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An Animal Alphabet

by Elisha Cooper

Orchard Books, New York, 2015. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Okay, this book is wonderful. For teaching about the alphabet, about counting (to eight!), about identifying multiple animals.

You get the concept of the concepts presented here right on the first page:

Find the one animal on each page that is pictured 8 times – 8 ants, 8 badgers, 8 chickens. Find all the other animals, too. Some may be familiar, such as a cat, and some not, such as a muskrat. (For help, see the “Did you know” section in the back.) But every animal is amazing and beautiful in its own way. Especially the hippopotamus. Let the exploring begin!

*Why the number 8? Because 8 is great. Because 8 is round and adorable. Because 8 is fun to count to (move over, 10). Because 8 is not too big, and not so small, but just right. Because 8 is my favorite number.

This is indeed a book for exploring. You can pretty quickly see on each page which animal is pictured 8 times, but it’s not a rubber stamp. The animal is pictured in 8 different poses, or perhaps even 8 different varieties of the animal. I grant you, the 8 ants aren’t terribly varied, but the 8 chickens include roosters as well as hens, the 8 goats include some kids, and the 8 moths and 8 newts come in many different colors.

As mentioned in the introduction, not all the animals are familiar. Some notable pages include:

Aardvark, abalone, albatross, alligator, alpaca, ant, anteater, antelope, armadillo

Camel, cat, caterpillar, chameleon, cheetah, chicken, chimpanzee, chipmunk, cicada, clam, cockroach, cow, coyote, crab

Panda, parrot, pelican, penguin, pheasant, pig, pigeon, platypus, porcupine, possum, puffin

Salmon, sandpiper, seagull, sea horse, seal, sea turtle, shark, sheep, skunk, sloth, slug, snail, squid, squirrel, starfish, swallow, swan, swordfish

The format of the book is the large and small letter in a corner of the page and the names of the animals at the bottom. The animals are all mixed up on the page, not necessarily to scale. These are paintings, not photos, but they’re lovely paintings, and you definitely get the idea. But the key in the back of the book will be needed.

So this is a good book for kids who like “Where’s Waldo” or any book of detailed pictures. I suspect it will take a few times through the book before parents know which animal matches every single name. And of course, one of the animals on each page shows up 8 times. So of course you will count them!

The key at the back has the heading “Did you know?” and each of the 184 animals in the book has a small picture and some facts about it. Here are some examples:

AARDVARK
Aardvarks are sometimes known as “ant bears.”

ARMADILLO
Armadillos spend almost eighteen hours a day napping.

BUTTERFLY
Butterflies taste with their feet.

DEER
Deer can see blue, yellow, and green, but not orange or red.

DUNG BEETLE
Dung beetles are able to tell which direction they are going from the position of the sun and the stars.

FERRET
A group of ferrets is called a “business.”

GIBBON
Gibbon couples start each day by hooting at each other.

GNAT
An evening swarm of male gnats is called a “ghost.”

LEMUR
Lemurs enjoy sunbathing.

OYSTER
A single oyster filters over forty gallons of water a day, cleaning water for other animal life.

RHINOCEROS
The skin of the rhinoceros is more than an inch thick.

VULTURE
Vultures poop and pee on their legs to keep themselves cool.

XERUS
Xeruses hold their tails over their heads to shade themselves from the sun.

YABBY
A yabby’s shell will match the color of the water it grew up in.

YAPOK
Yapoks have both webbed feet and stomach pouches.

Savvy parents probably won’t get started reading all 184 animal facts the first few times through the book. Pointing and naming and counting will keep you plenty busy.

This looks like a perfect book for my toddler-soon-to-be-preschooler nieces, or for anyone interested in exploring, naming, learning, and counting.

elishacooper.com
scholastic.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Dinosaur Kisses, by David Ezra Stein

Dinosaur Kisses

by David Ezra Stein

Candlewick Press, 2013. 32 pages.
Starred Review

Reading this book makes me want to immediately do a toddler storytime. It’s got so many elements to make toddlers giggle: Kisses, dinosaurs, and stomping, chomping, and whomping.

Dinah is a baby dinosaur who discovers she likes stomping (STOMP!) and chomping (CHOMP!). Then she sees a kiss and wants to try that. There’s a lovely and oh-so-frightening page as she sets off: “Who can I kiss?”

She doesn’t get it right. Cue lots of toddler giggles.

“I will kiss you!”

WHOMP!

“Whoops,” said Dinah.

Even I laughed out loud when I first read these pages:

“This time, if I’m really, really careful and I only use my lips . . .

then I can do it!

“I will kiss you!”

[page turn]

But she ate him.

“Whoops,” said Dinah. “Not good.”

It all ends with silly happiness when Dinah finds a newly hatched dinosaur like herself who has the same ideas about kisses.

A wonderful, whomping, stomping romp!

candlewick.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of One Two That’s My Shoe! by Alison Murray

One Two That’s My Shoe!

by Alison Murray

Disney Hyperion Books, New York, 2012. First published in Great Britain in 2011. 28 pages.

Simplicity. This book has it, in a beautiful form.

I recently had the joy of being promoted to Youth Services Manager at my library branch, so I get to do children’s programs again! Tomorrow, I’m doing a Mother Goose Time for babies from birth to eighteen months. In Mother Goose Time, we mainly do rhymes and songs in the parent’s lap. But I like to work in three books that are short and simple and that the parents can read along with me.

One Two That’s My Shoe! is perfect. The text is reminiscent of the old rhyme “One Two Buckle My Shoe,” going from one to ten with a rhyme after every second number. However, this book puts a story to the rhymes. With One Two, a dog has taken a little girl’s shoe, and is running away with it.

With each number, the pictures show that many objects that the dog is running past — toys, butterflies, flowers, trees, chicks and hens. The ten hens add a little inside joke. You’d expect Nine, Ten to rhyme with “Big Fat Hen” as in “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe,” but instead the girl shoos them away, recovers her shoe, and hugs the dog with the words “Friends again!”

This book is simple. The illustrations are done with printmaking, and look old-fashioned and classic. With at most three words on a page, you can read it quickly for the little one with a short attention span, but there’s plenty to talk about. Will the dog get away with the shoe? What will stop him?

As a counting book, it’s also excellent. All the objects passed are easily counted, with none tricky to find, but covering a wide scope of objects, and variety within the objects. The objects are not identical, but it’s easy to see that they belong together. Each number is both written out in the text and represented by a numeral in a corner. Next to the numeral, there are silhouettes of the object counted in the picture, so it’s nice and clear.

This is simply a lovely first counting book, and one that parents and children won’t get tired of any time soon. I’m happy to show it off at Mother Goose Time tomorrow.

disneyhyperionbooks.com
12thatsmyshoe.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of If Rocks Could Sing, by Leslie McGuirk

If Rocks Could Sing

A Discovered Alphabet

by Leslie McGuirk

Tricycle Press, Berkeley, 2011. 42 pages.
Starred Review

Quite simply, this book is wonderful.

It’s an alphabet book where all the letters are made of rocks. What’s more, all the objects that the letters start for are also made of rocks.

She’s got some normal words for alphabet books with surprising rock shapes: e is for elephant. (Yes, the rock is shaped exactly like an elephant head!) i is for igloo. (Yes, an igloo-shaped rock, complete with a door.) L is for Lemon. r is for rabbit. You get the idea.

Then there are also some surprising words, with perfect rock illustrations: c is for couch potato. (A potato-shaped rock is resting on a couch.) J is for Joy. (Two happy faces smiling at one another.) O is for Ouch! (This rock looks like it’s been punched in the nose.) T is for Toast. (I would not realize that rock was not a piece of bread if it weren’t in this book.) And the book does pass the X test: X is for XOXO. The rock looks exactly like two people locked in an embrace.

At the end of the book, the author explains how her collection got started:

This is a book born from the sea. Some people walk the beach searching for shells, all the while passing by the little rocks that make up this book.

This collection began more than ten years ago, as I discovered rocks on the Florida seashore that looked like letters. It became a real passion of mine to complete the entire alphabet. For many years, I waited for the letter K to appear. There was nothing I could do to make it show up. I understood that nature has its own timing, and my job was to be aware and expectant. The natural world is rich with inspiration. Finding these letters, and rocks that looked like objects to match them, was a process of believing that anything is possible. These are beautiful sculptures, little works of art. I feel honored to share these rocks with the world. These compositions are intended to allow these rocks to speak for themselves . . . and for us to imagine what we would hear if rocks could sing.

This book will inspire the reader to start a collection of their own. Or at the very least to look at nature with fresh eyes. This is now among my favorite alphabet books.

lesliemcguirk.com
randomhouse.com/kids

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

Oh No, George!

by Chris Haughton

Candlewick Press, 2012. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This book is along the lines of No, David!, by David Shannon, but this time the naughty “child” is a dog. In many ways, I think that will help children take lessons from the book all the more, and get practice putting themselves in the perspective of someone very different from themselves on the outside, but not so different on the inside.

The pictures are simple shapes, rather like a child would draw them, with bright orange backgrounds on alternate page spreads, mostly where the words say, “Oh no, George!”

The opening pages have these words:

Harry is going out.
“Will you be good, George?”
asks Harry.
“Yes,” says George.
“I’ll be very good.”

I hope I’ll be good,
George thinks.

George sees something in the kitchen.
It’s cake!
I said I’d be good,
George thinks,
but I LOVE cake.

What will George do?

That’s the cue for a page turn, a bright orange background, a picture of George taking an enormous mouthful of cake, and the words, “Oh no, George!”

And so it goes. George is tempted to play with Cat and dig in dirt, things he LOVES to do. Before each succumbing, the audience is asked “What will George do?”

Then Harry comes back. He confronts George with his terrible mess.

I said I’d be good,
George thinks.
I hoped I’d be good,
but I wasn’t.

A tear is coming out of George’s eye, and the text reads, “What will George do?”

It turns out that George apologizes and gives Harry his favorite toy. Harry and George go for a nice walk.

On the walk, George is once again tempted by a cake, lovely dirt, and a cat. But hooray! George goes right past!

The book ends like this:

Something smells very interesting.
What can it be?

It’s a trash can. There’s nothing George likes more than digging in trash.

What will George do?

George?

You can see there are so many interesting things that can be discussed about this book! And it tells a fun story at the same time. This is sure to be a hit in storytime or on a parent’s lap.

candlewick.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

by Mo Willems

Hyperion Books for Children, New York, 2012. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Oh, Mo Willems is a genius! I never get tired of his books. This, in case you were wondering, is another book featuring the Pigeon. It’s got a lot of the same elements that worked in previous books, including a throwing-a-fit page. Toddlers, kids, and their parents will easily relate to this book and understand the problem right from the title page.

In fact, as you open the book, when you look at the title, you see the pigeon saying, “I do not like the look of that.”

Then, on the beginning pages of the story, the duckling asks, very politely, for a cookie. And gets one! With nuts!

Then the pigeon discovers that the duckling got a cookie just by asking (politely). This is obviously not fair, since the pigeon asks for things all the time. I especially like the part where he recites some things he’s asked for, like a walrus. (He definitely does not mention the Puppy.) He begins to get worked up. He rails at the unfairness. He throws a fit. He cries. He rages. He pouts.

And the ending? You may be able to guess, but it is absolutely perfect.

While being written on the level a toddler can relate to, this book has so much to offer older readers, too. And toddlers themselves will find so much to talk about in these pages. Those who are already familiar with the Pigeon will have fun finding the references to each of the earlier books.

I have a strong feeling that if I am ever a grandmother, I am going to feel the need to own a copy of every single Pigeon book to keep in my house for reading to the grandchildren. Of course, in the meantime, I get to read to library members. Even if you don’t run out and buy this book for your own toddlers and preschoolers (and, come on, you really should!), be sure to at least do them the favor of checking it out from the library and enjoying these new antics with them.

pigeonpresents.com
hyperionbooksforchildren.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka

A Ball for Daisy

by Chris Raschka

Schwartz and Wade Books, New York, 2011. 32 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Caldecott Medal Winner
2011 Sonderbooks Stand-out: Picture Books #7

Here’s a truly wonderful wordless picture book. Chris Raschka portrays the heights and depths of emotion with simple painted lines and colors.

A Ball for Daisy features a little dog named Daisy. You can clearly see that Daisy loves her red ball. She plays with it, wags her tail when she catches it, and cuddles up next to it for a nap.

But when Daisy and her owner take it to the park, another dog begins to play, and he pops Daisy’s ball. Daisy’s sadness when this happens is unmistakeable.

Fortunately, there’s a happy ending as the other dog and its owner make things right the next day.

The pictures in this book are exuberant and varied, making the simple story great fun to read. The pages where Daisy’s trying to figure out what happened to her ball include shaking the limp casing, howling, and just being sad. The pages where Daisy is playing or sleeping reflect Daisy’s joyful and unworried existence. There’s a nice circular feeling as the end echoes the beginning, with Daisy cozying up to her new ball. All’s right in the world.

What child doesn’t know what it feels like to lose something? The story is universal, and can be “read” by the very young, yet will still fascinate older people with the beauty of the artwork.

I’m pleased with the Caldecott committee’s decision this year, as I have a feeling children will be enjoying this book for years to come.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say MOO, by Jonathan Allen

The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say MOO

by Jonathan Allen

Boxer Books, 2008. 28 pages.
Starred Review

I was very surprised to realize I hadn’t reviewed this book yet. It’s been a favorite Storytime choice of mine ever since I found it in the New Books section in 2008. It’s absolutely perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers. They are generally quite good at animal sounds, and this throws in a nice twist.

Here’s how it begins:

“Little Rabbit sat in the farmer’s field.

“‘Moo,’ said Little Rabbit. ‘Moo.’

“‘Why are you saying moo?’ asked Calf. ‘You’re not a cow.’

“‘I like moo,’ said Little Rabbit, ‘and rabbits don’t have a big noise.’

“‘Can you make other noises?’ asked Calf.

“‘I like baa,’ said Little Rabbit.

“‘So do I,’ said Calf.”

You can guess how the book goes from there. The two cute little animals Baa together and a lamb comes to investigate… and so on. At the end, all the animals declare their favorite sounds, and Little Rabbit makes a surprising choice that will provide a laugh.

This is a happy book, with cute baby animals doing silly things and making the “wrong” sounds. Like I said, it’s a fantastic choice for Storytime, and would also be great for sharing with a little one who has mastered animal sounds and knows how the world works. They will especially enjoy the twist!

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise, by Tomie dePaola

Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise

by Tomie dePaola

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011. 30 pages.

In June, I got to see Tomie dePaola receive the Laura Ingall Wilders Medal for his substantial and lasting contribution to children’s literature. I was struck by the fact that he’s a man who radiates love and joy. In this lovely little book, you can share some of that joy with your young children.

The text in this book is very simple and overtly religious, with pages that say things like this:

“Dogs, cats, all animals and creeping things on earth, praise God.”

The colorful pictures show the parts of creation named as they praise and bless God. I love that an outstanding children’s illustrator created this book for a big commercial publisher. This is a lovely little book for parents of any religion that worships God to share with their young children.

It’s simple. It’s joyful. It’s lovely.

Praise God!

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of Mitchell’s License, by Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile

Mitchell’s License

by Hallie Durand
illustrated by Tony Fucile

Candlewick Press, 2011. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here is an absolutely perfect choice for Father’s Day for fathers of small children. How I wish the creators had written it about 15 years earlier when my son was small and nuts about anything related to cars. Now I will have to settle for reading it in storytime, but what this book really needs is a father ready to act it out. Big thanks to Twenty By Jenny for bringing this book to my attention.

The book begins telling us about a typical three-year-old, but then a twist is added that creates all the fun:

“Mitchell never ever EVER wanted to go to bed. Until his dad finally said he could drive there.

“Mitchell was three years, nine months, and five days old when he got his license.”

The picture there shows Mitchell proudly holding his “Remote-Control Dad Driver’s License.”

Mitchell drives Dad as so many children do — sitting on his shoulders and steering with the ears. They have a whole lot of fun with it, with Mitchell inspecting the tires, checking the engine, and cleaning the windshield first. There’s a delightful surprise when Mitchell starts out by driving his car right into a wall!

“The next night, Mitchell remembered to stop and look both ways.
He also learned how to beep the horn.
He liked the way it sounded . . . a lot!”

You can probably guess what the picture to go with beeping the horn looks like, but wait until you see the vigor with which Mitchell pounds on his Dad’s nose!

We get to see a few different bedtimes, with Mitchell becoming a skilled driver and adding fun riffs on the theme, like braking to avoid a collision with Mom and adding oil.

But when Mitchell comes up with a scheme to drive the car to the Gas Station (Cookie Jar), his car malfunctions, and drives him to bed.

Part of what makes this book so absolutely brilliant are the illustrations. Tony Fucile is an animator, with credits such as The Lion King and Finding Nemo, and it shows. You almost feel like you’re watching a movie as you flip through the pages, with plenty of emotion showing on the characters’ faces and plenty of motion in the characters’ actions. When I saw the picture of Mitchell’s Dad’s face after he bonked into the wall, I could almost hear a theater full of kids burst out laughing.

This book is perfect in so many ways. The artwork is not gorgeous, elaborate paintings, but it is absolutely perfect for this story. I hope it will get some Caldecott attention. I notice clever details as I read it again — like Mitchell’s pajamas each night having a car theme, and his room decorated with cars. Mom’s walking by with a laptop, and there’s a cordless phone in a docking station. This is a modern home but fully in the wonderful tradition of books-as-games along with the classic Pete’s a Pizza. Makes me wish I had a toddler to share it with, but meanwhile it brings back wonderful memories of my husband playing with our boys.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.