Lynn: The youngest member of our focus group, Henry, has just turned three and he LOVES books. It is so much fun to be able to test new books on him and almost the first thing he looks for when my husband and I go to visit is my “special bag” of new picture books. My bag has got some really fun new books waiting for Henry’s seal of approval. Stay tuned for the verdict! Here is a picture of Henry and me visiting the Ypsilanti library the last time we were there.
Our first new book is Thumpy Feet (Holiday House 2013) by Betsy Lewin. Being owned by cats, myself, I’ve always laughed at the notion of soft little cat feet. We have two young cats, brothers who have formed a local chapter of the World Cat-Wrestling Society and they hold matches that feature crashes, thuds and thundering around the house. Thumpy feet is exactly right! Lewin’s big orange cat dominates every page and she captures the the very essence of cat. The big colorful illustrations are funny and delightful, depicting typical activities like having a bath, pouncing on a toy or yawning an enormous yawn. Simple descriptive text accompanies the charming illustrations - “Licky lick. Pouncy Pounce”- making this a delight to read aloud.
Another book that I think will strike a cord with the toddler set AND their parents is Time-Out for Sophie (Penguin/Viking 2013) by Rosemary Wells. The terrible two’s were a little late in arriving in Henry’s case but when it did, it arrived in force. “What,” you say, “that angelic child looking at picture books?” Oh yes! We’ve had front row seats for the show and the Time-Out is a familiar event as Henry follows a parental instruction with deliberate and considered defiance and a gleam in his eye. Sophie, an adorable little mouse, dumps her supper on the floor. “No, Sophie,” said Mama, “No throwing supper!” Mama tries again and – you guessed it – over it goes and it is time-out for Sophie. Sophie “helps” Daddy with the laundry until, with a VERY recognizable gleam in her eye, she pushes over the whole stack. And so it goes until she finally meets her match in Granny – at least for a little while. Wells uses simple vocabulary and large colorful illustrations squarely defined within warm yellow borders. My favorites are the full page views of Sophie in Time-Out looking astonished.
Cindy: I miss my days of preschool story hour but AH HA! by Jeff Mack (Chronicle 2013) would have been perfect for that two year old lap group and it certainly is one that Henry has enjoyed with his nana. Frog is having a relaxing day at the pond. “AAHH!” And then, “AH HA!” he finds a rock to perch on. “AAHH!” But young readers will giggle as they notice a dog and a boy coming in for a catch with a glass jar and lid. “AH HA!” The frog escapes but falls into one scrape after another with turtle, crocodile, flamingo, etc. until he is back to his restful day at the pond. Think Good News, Bad News for the very young. Mack creates a fun story with bright illustrations, only two letters used to make only a couple of phrases and plenty of opportunity for young readers to chime in with the repeating exclamations! “AAHH!” Henry gives it a thumbs up!