Tag Archives: board books

Little Monkey Calms Down

3 Jan

Today’s book review is for Little Monkey Calms Down, written by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Oriol Vidal, published by Picture Window Books (an imprint of Capstone Young Readers). It is scheduled to be released on February 1, 2014. I received an advance electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Little Monkey Calms Down book cover

Little Monkey Calms Down is a board book for children ages 2-4. Little Monkey has a meltdown when his day isn’t going as planned. However with some soothing words and useful coping strategies, Little Monkey is able to calm down and enjoy the rest of his day. This book teaches toddlers how to express and manage their emotions, which is an important skill.

Dahl’s writing is simple, clear, and age appropriate. He uses plain language that helps children to focus on the key ideas of the text, rather than getting bogged down in unfamiliar word choices. I appreciated that he emphasized that you can feel more than one emotion at the same time, such as sad and mad (although, I was puzzled by the inclusion of angry, being that mad and angry are usually used synonymously). Most importantly, though, he reassures kids that it is okay to cry–while also offering them techniques to calm themselves.

Vidal’s illustrations are bold and colorful. Every page has a flat background of saturated color that draws the eye. And his rendering of the monkeys is wonderful. Little Monkey displays a wide range of emotion, illustrated so that even the youngest children can read the visual cues and understand how he is feeling. Vidal works in a style that I also think will appeal to toddlers–one that is cute and lively.

This is an excellent choice for parents who want to encourage emotional awareness in their children. Learning how to regulate their emotions is an important developmental milestone for children–and it’s not something that they can do on their own. They need adults to guide them and provide them resources. At the same time, sometimes we parents also need resources to help guide us. Little Monkey Calms Down is a great solution–it provides children an opportunity to learn and parents a place to start dialogue. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

Book Review: Peek-a-Boo Monsters

1 Oct

Today’s book review is for Peek-a-Boo Monsters, by Charles Reasoner, published by Picture Window Books (an imprint of Capstone Young Readers). I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Peek-a-Boo Monsters is a peek-a-boo style board book featuring die-cut windows on each page that allow you to look through to a small piece of the following page. Although it’s a great selection to put you in the mood for Halloween, it’s not a Halloween-themed book–meaning that monster loving toddlers can enjoy reading it year round.

Reasoner’s simple rhyming text is easy to follow. And while this seems like just a fun, silly book, the author still manages to sneak some educational concepts in as well. On the pages, toddlers will be introduced to opposites such as up/under, big/small, short/tall.

His accompanying illustrations are cute and quirky. These are monsters that will make little ones giggle–or give out big hugs. Many of the monsters have speech bubbles which add to the playfulness of the book. On one page a little monster says “Grrr!” while a much larger monster leans away saying “Yikes!” And every page features cheerful colors to keep roaming eyes focused.

I enjoy the overall design of the book. The font selections are appropriate and fun. They fit well with Reasoner’s illustrations and the tone of the text. In addition to the expected peek-a-boo cut outs, cleverly arranged on each page, the outlines of the pages are also adjusted to add additional visual interest. Everything comes together to create an attractive product.

I give Peek-a-Boo Monsters 3 out of 5 stars. It’s not revolutionary, but it is a fun little book. It would make a fun Halloween present for a special little one. Or it could be used for a Halloween-themed story time, with a smaller group of children.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

Book Review: 50 Below Zero

27 Sep

Today’s book review is for 50 Below Zero (board book edition), written by Robert N. Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko, published by Annick Press Ltd. I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a board book adapted from Munsch’s 1986 bestselling picture book by the same title. While I have never read the original book, I found that I enjoyed the board book a great deal. 50 Below Zero is about a boy named Jason who has a sleepwalking father. Throughout the night, Jason hears noises, gets out of bed, and finds his father sleeping in the most unexpected places–including outside, against a tree, in the bitter cold. Eventually Jason grows tired of sending his father back to bed and comes up with an ingenious solution.

Munsch’s sense of humor wonderful. He delights in the absurd and recognizes that it’s a type of humor that will appeal to toddlers as much as to adults. His writing is clear, simple without being bland. It’s easy to see why his original volume was so popular.

Martchenko’s illustrations are equally entertaining. He does a fabulous job of capturing the emotions of his characters through facial expression and body language. The style of the illustrations feels slightly dated–although the details do not. Through heavy use of blues and grays, Martchenko creates a strong night time environment.

The book is nicely designed. Bold, easy to read text is placed on white background with facing page illustrations. On the pages where Jason discovers his father there are wavy strings of blue “zzz”s and the exclamation “Papa, wake up!” is highlighted in red. One children are familiar with the story, this can easily serve as a cue for them to participate by joining in with Jason’s call.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars because I really enjoyed it. It made me chuckle as I read. Even more than that, it’s a bit different from most of the fare I see in board books. A lot of board books are playful, but far fewer are actually clever. It’s nice to see a bit of variety for our youngest readers.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

Book Review: The Alphabet Parade

14 Sep

Today’s review is for The Alphabet Parade, written by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by A. G. Jatkowska, published by Picture Window Books (an imprint of Capstone Young Readers). I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This might be my new favorite alphabet book. At the very least, it’s now my favorite alphabet board book. It’s a great example of a well-conceived and well-designed book for toddlers. First it uses vivid language full of rhyme and alliteration to help children develop their verbal skills. It’s a joy to read aloud–and I love that it introduces some uncommon words for curious toddlers. Any caregiver or educator can probably attest to the abundance of simplistic language in books targeted to the 1-3 years old crowd. It’s refreshing to read something that shows toddlers the joys of playing with language.

And the vibrant illustrations of Jatkowska bring Ghinga’s text alive. Each member of the parade, whether human or animal, is brought to life in these joyful and colorful pictures. Whether it’s an image of a fiddling fox or a vocal vulture with a microphone, the illustrations are sure to delight children and adults alike. The attention to detail is delightful.

To finish things off, the book exhibits wonderful design principle. Font choices are thoughtful and complement the illustrations. The primary text is black, while highlighted letters and words are presented in various colors and all caps font to showcase their importance to young children. The text is easy to read and well-placed on the page.

This book wins 5 out of 5 stars. Concept books can be challenging–but this one delivered quality. I would definitely recommend it and will encourage my local library to add it to their collection.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.