illustrated · Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: 1 to 20 Animals Aplenty by Katie Viggers.

Review: 1 to 20 Animals Aplenty by Katie Viggers.

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Count from one through to twenty with the help of some animal friends. 

1 fox in a pair of socks. 

2 gorrillas looking in mirrors. 

On we go through llamas in pyjamas, dogs with frogs and moles making holes, all the way to 20 birds who have the last words. Counting animals works on so many different levels. It helps the reader to visualise and compare different quantities, it allows them to compare on quantity to another and it encourages them to look at realistic drawings of animals. 

At the end of the book, over two double page spreads, the animals are lined up together in rows. This helps the reader to understand some basic numerical princples. For example, there is only one fox, but there is one gorilla and another one gorilla, and that makes two. Children encounter numbers in different contexts. The number 2 bus, for example, uses the number as a label but it is only one bus. This is a nominal use of the number 2. It can be terribly confusing to understand that the number two can also be broken down into 2×1 or 1+1. The number 2 can represent a quantity. 

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Chanting the names of numbers is only the beginning. By looking at the illustrations, readers will gain a deeper understanding of numbers as a quantity. 

For all the whimsy of the rhymes, the illustrations show animals in realistic poses. Certainly, most foxes don’t wear socks but aside from the knee-high stripey socks the illustration is realistic and clearly informed by observation. Later on in the book, different species of dog, cat and bird are clearly labelled. As well as introducing readers to basic numeracy, this increases their vocabulary about the natural world. This gives an added advantage. Books like this are read over and over across a number of years – say from toddlerhood through to the end of Infant’s School. The adult reader is less likely to get bored if they enjoy the artwork. 

A beautiful and intelligently designed introduction to animals and numbers .

 

Thanks to Laurence King Publishing for my copy of 1 to 20 Animals Aplenty. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction

Review: The Language Of The Universe by Colin Stuart and Ximo Abadía.

Review: The Language Of The Universe by Colin Stuart and Ximo Abadía.

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Maths can feel confusing. At times in my childhood, it felt like nothing more than memorising a string of processes, the use of each was more obscure than the last. Yet maths is the language of the universe. It is written into nature, into the laws of physics and into modern-day technology. 

This beautiful book introduces the places where maths can be found. It reminds us that maths is about more than examinations. It is a magical, complex language. One waiting to be explored. 

Four sections divide the book into topics: 

  • Maths In The Natural World
  • Physics, Chemistry and Engineering. 
  • Space. 
  • Technology. 

Within each section, different concepts are explored through beautiful double-page spreads. 

There are gems of information inside this book which will make you look at the world in a whole new way. Did you know that female pufferfish examine the patterns a male makes in the sand on the ocean floor? The female looks for the most geometrically perfect patterns when selecting a partner. And did you know that you could lift the Earth up and turn it (if only you were positioned with a lever billions of light-years long)? Fascinating facts like this make it impossible to not want to know the principles. 

The illustration and design is undoubtedly part of the attraction of this book. Pages are cleverly divided into different sections with shapes and colours which attract the eye. The retro-style pictures are attractive and fun and make spreads which deal with complex ideas feel more welcoming to novices. 

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What also makes the book fantastic is that is doesn’t once water down its subject matter. The book is certainly aimed at a younger audience, but it doesn’t ever give the impression that children might be reluctant to learn. Sections of text are kept short – one or two paragraphs at a time – but the principles are explained and illustrated in sensible and engaging language. The book takes its readers seriously, unlike so many books on complex subjects which resort to heavy-handed humour to engage readers. If information is presented in an engaging way, people are often eager to know more. 

A stunning introduction to the way mathematics underpins our world. Numbers are part of our history, of our make-up and of our communication. Books like this remind us that to study them is a great adventure. 

 

Thanks to Big Picture Press for my gifted copy of The Language Of The Universe. Opinions my own.

 

Board Book

Review: Little White Fish series by Guido Van Genechten

Review: Little White Fish series by Guido Van Genechten

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Little White Fish is ready to learn. Whether he’s looking for his Mummy, having a birthday party or playing with his friends, he is always soaking in new information. 

Colours, numbers and prepositions are covered by the first three books in this series. They are woven into the narrative in a way which means the reader can choose just to read the story, although the texts are rich with learning opportunities. 

Little White Fish stands out against a black background. If you think this is an odd choice for an ocean story, just wait until you see how striking the fish and corals look in the dark. It reminds me of a fuzzy felt set I had when I was small, where vibrant colours stood out against a black background. 

The ocean is a big place, but there is always a happy face around the corner to help a tiny fish. These stories are charming in a way which avoids being sentimental. 

Although the age recommendation on the back is two years, these would be lovely to read to a smaller child. The bright colours and happy faces would attract tiny eyes, even if they were too young to pick up the information. 

A lovely series with huge potential. Looking forward to seeing what happens next in the ocean. 

 

Thanks to Catch A Star Books for my gifted copies of the Little White Fish stories. Opinions my own.

Board Book

Review: Nibbles Numbers by Emma Yarlett

Review: Nibbles Numbers by Emma Yarlett

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Look out! Nibbles the book-munching monster is back, and this time he has munched his way into a book of numbers. He’s obviously taken in what he has read, though, because clever Nibbles munches the right number of holes in every page. Count along with him from one to ten. 

A clever and entertaining format which will raise smiles from children and their adult readers. 

What works about this is sheer design. An apparently simple idea which is executed to perfection. The book introduces numbers from one through to ten. Every number has its own double-page spread. The monster nibbles the correct number of holes in every page so that the reader can count along.

Iimg_8356t is difficult to remember as adults that children don’t automatically understand that numbers represent a quantity. When you think about it, children encounter arbitrary numbers too, (the number 12 bus, for example, has nothing to do with the number 12). Counting along and adding one every time is a brilliant way for children to familiarise themselves with the idea of quantity. 

The idea of a book-munching monster is hilarious. The reader releases nibbles from his cage as the start of the book by lifting a flap, and off he goes, all the way through the end cover. I bet these look lovely as a series and raise lots of smiles when the naughty monster gets to work on the books. There is great humour in something fictional apparently destroying books because this is exactly what young readers are told not to do. 

A bright and engaging book which will encourage children to early numeracy. 

 

Thanks to Little Tiger Press for my gifted copy of Nibbles Numbers. Opinions remain my own.