No mistake about this awesome book!

beautiful-oops-Beautiful Oops is written, constructed and crafted by the venerable Barney Saltzberg. This one is for everybody. Perhaps at 29 years I’m not in its core demographic, but the message is as important to me as ever it was; that mistakes can be wonderful and happy occurrences if we approach them from a positive angle.

This book is really a joy to flick through. From start to finish, each page demonstrates how different types of beautiful oopses can produce unexpected yet satisfying results. For example, a coffee stain can turn into a frog if you give it half a chance! A torn piece of paper can turn into the mouth of a crocodile (or is it an alligator? I never really got the hang of those two…).

The pages are bright, vivid and interactive. My son loves this book. He’s just over 2, and also not the core demographic for this book and yet it has already had an impact on him. When he makes a mistake and becomes a little fixated in that toddlery way (‘it’s broken! it’s broken!’), I can say ‘it’s a beautiful oops!’ and he understands the reference.

I really do recommend this book for anyone and everyone. It’s a beautifully crafted reminder that mistakes are not the end of the world and can, in fact, be the beginning of a new one.

Beautiful Oops is written by Barney Saltzberg and published by Workman Publishing, New York. It’s written for (everybody), but officially it’s for those between 3-5 years of age.

You can snatch up a copy for yourself at: http://www.booktopia.com.au/beautiful-oops–barney-saltzberg/prod9780761157281.html

A sweet story for the sentimental reader.

You Are My I Love YouYou Are My I Love You, written by Maryann Cusimano Love and illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa, is sugary from start to finish. I like this sort of story. Then again, I’m endlessly sappy which means You Are My I Love You is already three steps ahead in my book (pun totally intended).

The rhyming verse follows an ‘I am; You are’ pattern. For example, “I am your dinner; you are my chocolate cake. I am your bedtime; you are my wide awake.” The illustrations depict an adult bear with a little teddy as they experience the daily joys of parent-child interaction.

Love (it’s like she was born to write this particular story) has chosen her words carefully and well. Sometimes silly, sometimes serious, every page evokes a particular memory and moment as I read it. The rhyming scheme is also easy on the ears for my nearly-two-year-old.

I appreciate that the parent-figure is wearing blue clothing. This means that the figure is neutral enough that it could be a parent or caregiver from either gender. This is important because most I Love You stories seem to focus on the intimate moments with mum. This one allows for dad (or other) to read it too, and leaves room for discussion without having to respond to comments like, “but isn’t that his mummy?”

You Are My I Love You, published by Penguin Group, is recommended for children (and sappy parents) 3-5.

A bit of quick novelty fun.

All Around TownWhen I came across this book I was pretty keen. For starters, the book is somewhat of a novelty; it is shaped like a miniature city – I think that’s kind of awesome. Inside the city, there are cars and roads and six buildings – each building has a dedicated little first-word type book, eg. hospital, school etc. and each book is filled with words related to that building, such as ‘student’, ‘patient’ etc.

Visually speaking, the layout of this book definitely breaks up the monotony of some of the other first-word books that I’ve come across. Unfortunately, I ended up more interested in this book than my son which is not a great thing because, not to boast here, I already knew all the words. I’m not sure I can actually explain why my son isn’t totally into it because it appears to have everything you’d want and/or need in order to attract a very young reader. I’m going to persist with this one because the words inside are actually quite useful, and not often found in a lot of the other ‘baby’s first word’ books.

I am recommending this book, but I’d caution that you test it on your little one before you buy it. I’m thinking of bringing it to playgroup this week and seeing if the other little hands find it more appealing. That being said, I think it’s worth a try. I’d recommend it for children ages 1-3 (though 3 is pushing it).

All Around Town, illustrated by Veronica Klimova, can be found at: http://www.paperchainbookstore.com.au/search.cfm?UR=BI234258&search_stage=details&records_to_display=50&this_book_number=28

My son loves this book.

Dino ShapesDino Shapes, written and illustrated by Suse MacDonald, is really fun. It’s also educational, but in a tricky haha you’re learning and you didn’t even know it sort of way.

The concept is complicated but presented in a seamlessly simple way. Essentially, through a mix of colours and shapes, MacDonald builds a dinosaur page by page. Each page is dedicated to a new part of the dinosaur’s face, and that part is made out of a different shape. My son (17 months) has asked for the ‘dino’ book three days in a row now. Tonight, he startled me by correctly identifying the oval and diamond. He has a firm grasp on other shapes but these are, arguably, more complicated for a little person to grasp. He also identified the ‘crescent’, but he hasn’t quite articulated it properly yet. I’m certain Dino Shapes is a large part of this early learning.

Amazon suggests this book is appropriate for 3-7 years but I think that doesn’t give children on the earliest side of life enough credit. Dino Shapes is exciting and cleverly immersive, especially considering the tiny people for which the book is written. If you don’t have little ‘uns, this one is actually a pretty great gift too. You can purchase the book at: http://www.amazon.com/Dino-Shapes-Suse-MacDonald/dp/1481400932

Not my usual sort of picture book review.

jay p and l 123Usually I go through picture books that have some sort of a narrative, but today I had to make an exception. My son is infatuated with these books! Now that he has started to develop a healthy bank of numbers and words, he is able to achieve a sense of accomplishment when he recognises what he sees in books. It is amazing to watch his first experience of gratification from learning. It’s delicious, really.

The Play and Learn 123 and Play and Learn ABC books are not just numbers and letters. They also include an assortment of pictures, words, colours and interactive elements such as lift-the-flap and slide-the-flap. The variation is enough to keep him entertained. The font size is big and fun, the bright colours are attention-grabbing and the choice of pictures (animals, fruit, body parts) is fantastic. This, combined with his prior knowledge, is enough to keep him motivated. He flips through these books over and over again — but I’m not complaining!

These books tend to be recommended for children 2-4, but my bub is 15 months so really there’s on harm in starting your one-year-old (or younger!) on these books. You can find a bunch of Roger Priddy’s books, including these, here: http://www.amazon.com/Board-Books-Colors-Numbers-Bright/dp/0312502192

Things that make you go… “no, no, no”!

ImageImagine my enthusiasm as I came across The Smurfs – Brainy Smurf’s Sporty Day (a board book).

Three things drew me to this book:

1) Smurfs! Need I say more?

2)The ‘BIG flaps for small hands’ label.

3)The book is centred on a brainy character.

Number three is where things get messy. Anecdotally, there were too many words for a 9-month-old on which to concentrate, but that’s basically me wanting to read a book he’s not ready for yet. The real issue with this book is that (spoiler alert) no matter how hard brainy tries to achieve anything at all the various sports, he just can’t seem to succeed. In the end, he finds a place for himself as a referee.

I do understand the benefits of telling children they don’t need to be good at everything. I get that. What I don’t like is how pigeonholed these smurfs are. Why can’t brainy be good at a sport? I know, I know — that’s his name. Also, I refer to point one: they’re smurfs. But little people are so impressionable, and they are just becoming their special little selves. I don’t know, this just really irked me. Brainy tries everything and in the end, basically just goes back to being pre-sport-attempting brainy.

Also, the fact that his choice to take the referee’s position has marginalised him. Yes, I know I’m putting my academic hat on, but stick with me here. Whilst all the other smurfs are happy playing sports, brainy is in a different role. I guess the message I inferred was that if you are smart, you are different and you have a different role. Something about that seems off.

Still, the pictures are bright and fun, and the flaps are very flappable for little hands. If you don’t give a hoot about all that stuff above, then you can find the book here : http://www.fivemile.com.au/catalog/smurfs/brainy-smurfs-sporty-day-shaped-board-book-0.