Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

#HomesCool for Littles: Board Books with a mission!

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the great board books that are loaded with learning activities for tiny hands to explore. Turning wheels, sliding panels, flaps, these books are filled with fun and imagination. Let’s take a look at a few.

Turn•Seek•Find: Habitats, by Ben Newman, (Feb. 2021, Twirl), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408019693

Ages 3-5

Perfect for preschoolers, this larger board book (11″x9.5″) takes readers on a journey to five different areas – the African Savanna, the Ice Field, the Indian Jungle, the Pacific Island, and the Big City – and talks a little about the kind of habitat each one provides, along with fun seek and find activities at the turn of a wheel. Two wheels on each spread encourages readers to discover different items and colors within the spreads. The artwork is bright and cold, with eye-catching colors and details that kiddos will love exploring. Perfect for cultivating observation skills and fine motor skills, the book is sturdy and will hold up to multiple readings. Find books and facts about each spread to encourage littles to go deeper and learn more. Ask kids what they recognize from the spreads and encourage them to find out more about things that may be new. Never seen a baobab tree before? Look it up on kid-friendly sites like National Geographic and find books like John Archambault’s By the Baobab Tree. There are so many ways to encourage and extend learning with a fun book like this; let it be your jumping-off point and follow your little’s interests.

 

Matching Game Book: Bugs and Other Little Critters, by Stéphanie Babin/Illustrated by Manu Callejón (March 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9782408024659
Ages 3-5
Another fun, larger-sized board book with activities to keep little brains busy! Meet the bugs that live in the meadow, at the pond, in the forest, in the ground, and in the dark! Sliding panels allow kids to play a memory game on each spread, and additional suggested activities encourage kids to play seek and find, I Spy, and Hide and Seek. Panels slide easily back and forth; no struggles here. The insects are cute, with big, expressive eyes and are colorful and kid-friendly. Excellent manipulation for fine motor skills, and pair with Eric Carle books like The Very Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Lonely Firefly. Bob Barner’s Bugs, Bugs, Bugs! is a great choice, too. There are so many “Buggie Books”, as my Kiddo used to refer to them, out there  – just ask your favorite librarian! The Spruce Crafts has some adorable and easy bug-related crafts, too: I’m partial to the ladybug hat and firefly suncatcher.
Animal Friends 1 2 3, by Christophe Loupy/Illustrated by Shunsake Satake, (Feb. 2021, Twirl Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408024680
Ages 3-5
A lift-the-flap counting book with a fun spin, Animal Friends 1 2 3 has a fun question-and-answer format that encourages readers’ curiosity: “5 little bears are busy picking blueberries. 2 got a wee bit hungry!”  The facing spread has five little smiling bears sitting among minimalist blueberry trees. Easy-to-lift flaps reveal two bears snacking on blueberries. Colored dots run across the bottom of each spread, adding a fun visual component. The story also includes basic addition skills, with a group of 4 mice inviting groups of friends to their party, and increasing their number: “‘Let’s invite our 4 performer friends!’ says the fourth mouse. ‘With them, there will be 9 of us. They can show us magic tricks!'” Flaps will reveal the four friends, while dots across the bottom of the page will account for all nine characters. Good for preschoolers developing their math skills and toddlers who are learning their 123s. There are so many great printables for little counters available. Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds has some fun printables, On Teachers Pay Teachers, Play to Learn Preschool has a fun apple counting printable, and Kamp Kindergarten has an adorable school bus clip and count activity.
Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Boo! Who’s biggest? Who’s bravest?

boo_1Boo!, by Ben Newman, (Apr. 2017, Nobrow), $12.99, ISBN: 9781911171058

Recommended for ages 3-6

A cute little mouse claims to be the bravest animal around, but he has no idea what’s coming up behind him… BOO! Each animal in Boo! is ready to brag about being the bravest, but there’s always a shadow lurking, waiting to pounce in the next spread in this fun cumulative story. This is a fun story about size and how being the biggest may not always mean being the bravest. It’s a fun, interactive read, giving kids the opportunity to call out when there’s a rising shadow that the current bravest animal doesn’t know about, and to yell, “BOO!” in each reveal. You can make animal noises, ask kids to predict what animal is in shadow, and what animal could be scarier as you progress.

There’s a nice rhythm to the story: animal states that he or she is the bravest; the opposite page shows a shadowy antagonist rising up behind the current star of the story, and the following spread features the jump scare reveal. Kids will love the suspense and the chance to be part of the story. Ben Newman’s retro art is fun and bright, with exaggerated scale and reactions for his characters. This is an especially great read-aloud, yell-along book for toddler and pre-k audiences! Fun endpapers show the progression of the scare chain.

 

 

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Ben Newman is an award-winning illustrator who also works on the Professor Astro Cat children’s books with Dr. Dominic Walliman; also published by Nowbrow/Flying Eye Books. His website has a podcast, some great artwork and a trailer for Boo!, which is currently released in the UK.

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Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Physics for Everyone! Professor Astro Cat’s on the Case!

astrocat_1Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure, by Dominic Walliman/Illustrated by Ben Newman (May 2016, Nobrow Press), $24.00, ISBN: 9781909263604

Recommended for ages 7-12

Think you’re too young to understand physics? Professor Astro Cat is here to show you how awesome the science of matter and energy is. Using language and examples that beginning learners will understand, with retro-futuristic illustrations that will catch kids’ eyes, this is a great start for kids who want to go a little bit beyond the basic states of matter and find out more.

This is the second Professor Astro Cat book – the first, Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, looked at our planets, solar system, gravity, and extraterrestrial life – and is a great addition to libraries that want STEM books available to all readers. I’ve got maker books, I’ve got robotics books and LEGO books, but physics was an area I’ve typically shied away from for the children’s room (mainly, because most of my personal physics knowledge comes from Big Bang Theory episodes). Professor Astro Cat and his friends are patient, though, and never talk down to their audience. With direct language and discussions on subjects like why snowshoes help you walk on snow, rather than sink into it, and why rainbows appear when it rains during the daytime, kids will be excited about science – and that’s what we want!

Author Dr. Dominic Walliman has a Ph.D. in Quantum Device Physics, and has taught physics to all levels of students – and has even taught at festivals. Ben Newman is an award-winning illustrator who also did the artwork on Astro Cat’s app. Newman’s website is loaded with his amazing retro art and book trailers – go check it out! And check out some more of Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure, right here!

 

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