This new concept board book series invites readers to mindfully explore their world, concentrating on their senses. In Look, a toddler and her parent help rehabilitate an urban space, creating a community garden where there was once litter and neglect: “Bags of paper, bottles, cans, / Bits of plastic, shards of glass. / Friends and neighbors, pitching in. / Look, what can you see?” Spreads show the community working together to clean up the area, boxing up garbage and tending to the land, planting and watering the earth, creating a welcoming garden. The artwork moves from a darker, almost gloomy cityscape to a warm, green space that local wildlife returns to, with gentle repetition to encourage readers to point out what they see on each spread. Ask your littles what they see and how it differs from the previous spread: are there more plants? Less junk and litter? Notice how the cityscape fades further into the background as the garden – the focus of the story – grows and flourishes. The toddler and her parent are brown-skinned; the community is diverse.
The companion book to Look, Listen follows a toddler and his parent as they go on a nature walk on a rainy day. The focus here in on the sounds around the two: “Winds whisper. Winds whoosh. / Rain pitters, patters, pours, / Through the leaves. / Listen, what can you hear?” The fonts play with language, stretching and bending to elicit sounds from readers. The repetitive question, “What can you hear?” invites readers to think about what the characters must be hearing, based on the verse, or even what they themselves hear in their environments. This is a great book to read twice in a seating if you can manage it: ask your readers to close their eyes and listen to a reading first, asking them, to form a picture in their minds of walking through a woodsy area on a rainy day. Animals add to the soundscape on each spread, as deer sniff, moles scratch, birds tweet, and frogs croak. The parent and child are people of color. Watercolor illustrations create a peaceful landscape and foster a love for nature.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Amy Huntington has planned for our other touch, taste, and smell! Download a coloring page for Listen at Kane Miller’s webpage.