Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New and Interactive & Old Friends

Week of September 11—Learning from NY Times Best Sellers
Tuesday, September 13—New and Interactive & Old Friends

Today we continue our examination of picture books on the September 18 New York Times best-sellers list. Interactive is the key word to describe two of the books we’ll look at and old friends describes the other two—one old friend is part of a well-known series, and the other  revisits characters from another best-seller. Keep your eyes peeled for trends.

Press Here
By Hervé Tullet
© 2010
Handprint Books/Chronicle Books
(20th week on the list)

This is my favorite book of the summer and one I've reviewed before. It must be the favorite of many others, too, since it';s been on the best-seller list for 20 weeks! Let me recap my previous review.

Press Here uses all kinds of teaching concepts—colors, numbers, counting, directionality, following instructions, and more. But it doesn't try to teach the child those things. Instead, using colored dots as illustrations, the author encourages the child to interact with the book. “Press the yellow dot . . . . Shake the book . . .  Wonderful! Now tip the book to the left.” Encouraging words are strewn throughout the book and seem like your favorite teacher praising you and encouraging you to keep going. You know how editors always say a picture book needs to be something that can be read over and over again? Well, on the last page of Press Here, the author asks the reader, “Would you like to do that again?” and encourages you to turn back to the beginning of the book. Marvelous!

Skippyjon Jones, Class Action
By Judy Schachner
© 2011
Dutton Children’s Books
 (8th week on the list)

That wacky Siamese kitty boy, Skippyjon Jones, and his alter-ego, El Skippito, are back. In this story, Skippyjon wants to go to school (yes, another going-to-school book), but his mother says that school is only for dogs who need to be trained. Skippyjon goes into his closet and eventually on a school adventure where he tries to save dogs from a wooly bully so the perritos can eat lunch in peace. Rhyme mixed with prose makes up the text along with some high-end vocabulary, some words in Spanish, with a little Chihuahua accent thrown in for fun. Skippyjon is also fond of singing, and words of his songs are included as part of the text. A bonus CD is packaged with the book.

Bear’s Lose Tooth  
By Karma Wilson
Illustrated by Jane Chapman
© 2011
Margaret K. McElderry Books
 (1st week on the list)

This book reprises the characters from Wilson and Chapman’s earlier book, Bear Snores On. Written in an A-B-C-B rhyming pattern, Bear’s Loose Tooth, is a delight to the ears and eyes. The rhyme pattern is sometimes interrupted with an AAB stanza which helps move the action along. The rhyme is actually so precise and the meter so smooth, that I would read portions and forget there was a rhyme scheme at all. There’s no sing-song here, just lyrical rhyme.

The story begins with Bear and his friends (Wren, Mouse, Badger, and Owl) eating lunch. Suddenly, Bear feels something—a loose tooth. His friends look in his mouth, reassure him, and even try to help him pull the tooth. Later, with a wiggle of his tongue, Bear loses the tooth. That night, in his den, the Tooth Fairy brings blueberries. When morning comes, the friends arrive for breakfast and Bear suddenly realizes he has another loose tooth. This universal theme/concept/idea will appeal to every child. The circling of the story back to a second loose tooth subtly encourages that read-it-again feeling. Chapman’s illustrations are beautiful, which only adds to the quality of the entire reading experience.

By Matthew Van Fleet
Photography by Brian Stanton
© 2011
A Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster
 (1st week on the list)

When I couldn’t find this book at Barnes & Noble, the woman at the Information Desk said, “Oh, that’s with interactive books.” Ok, I didn’t know they had an interactive section. To my surprise the section was filled with great books like Moo—many of them by Van Fleet and from Paula Wiseman. These are truly interactive books in the way most folks remember. Moo includes textures to touch, flaps to lift, buttons to push to move objects, pop ups, see-through windows, squeaky noise buttons, and more.

This non-fiction book uses photos instead of illustrations and leads the reader/listener to learn the habits and distinctive sounds of seven barnyard residents—a duck, cow, sheep, pig, horse, goat, and chicken. The back-cover description says the book is for toddlers and the board-book format would be appropriate for that age. This is a sit-in-my-lap-as-we-read-and-interact-with-the-book read aloud. In a word . . . adorable.

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