Chronicle sent me two great board books for toddlers by Taro Gomi. Both directly engage kids, making the reading an active experience. The first, Hide and Seek, has animals playing hide and seek with common household objects. The left-hand page shows a small picture of the object and asks:
"Which (animal) hides (the object)?"
For example: "Which rooster hides a glove?"
The facing page shows two or more animals (increasing throughout the book), ending up with kids instead of animals on the last page, and a hidden object. In all cases, the object blends in quite well with the animal in question. For example, for "Which turtle hides a scooter?", a scooter's wheels protrude from beneath the shell of one of the turtles, in place of feet. It's quite subtle - kids will have to look twice to find it. Other examples are easier to spot, probably to reduce frustration in young readers. But Gomi still displays quite a bit of creativity in his choices (finding object / animal pairings that work).
Hide and Seek can also function as a counting book, with children counting the number of animals on each page. Gomi's animals are not precisely realistic, particularly in their coloring, but they are recognizable and kid-friendly. The kids shown on the last page are all brown-skinned, making this an especially good choice for parents and librarians seeking books about non-white characters for the youngest readers.
Hide and Seek invites kids to engage with the book by pointing out the objects, and counting the animals. Wiggle! begs interaction even more directly. Each page spread features an animal doing something characteristic. "The elephant swings her trunk." "The penguin pecks with his beak." And so on. But there's a dime-sized hole through the entire book (right where the robot's nose would be on the cover), and the defining attribute is left blank. It's clear that a child's finger, or fingers, is meant to poke through the hole, and act out the text. So, a finger becomes a swinging elephant's trunk, or a penguin's pecking beak. It's very fun. Even as an adult reading this by myself, I was unable to resist poking my fingers through.
Although the text is minimal, Gomi uses strong verbs when he can, like: "The crocodile flashes his fangs." As in Hide and Seek, the animals are recognizable without being quite realistic, and colored in unexpected ways (a blue crocodile, for instance). The minimal detail in the illustrations should work for the very youngest of readers.
Funny, educational, visually pleasing, and begging active interaction. These are two excellent board book choices for one to three year olds. Recommended!
Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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