Martin Jenkins and Tim Hopgood have created a fabulous frog book. Portraying brief information about many kinds of frogs, Fabulous Frogs (Candlewick Press, 2015) is a delight to read from different sized, informative text to fantastic illustrations; you’ll want to ponder over each page.
Starting with a two-page spread before the title page, Jenkins and Hopgood give the basic life cycle of a frog from egg to tiny frog. Then the reader is thrown (happily) into the amazing and varied world of frogs. I don’t want to describe too much because it is a wonderful journey through kinds of frogs and features of frogs such as speed, size, poison and loudness. The illustrations are fabulous and the way Jenkins presents the text is fabulous. I especially love how Jenkins gives a sweet shout-out to how special it is to have an ordinary back-yard frog too, despite all the amazing variety presented in the book. This book is a keeper.
If you’ve ever loaded up a family and taken a summer trip, you will immediately connect with Counting Our Way to Maine by Maggie Smith (1995, Orchard Books). In this concept book, Smith is able to capture the moods and nuances that accompany a summer vacation trip beautifully and nostalgically (especially as I write on a chilly March morning). You feel like part of the family, and you know just want she means as she evokes, through her illustrations, the multiple expressions of the hope that gets packed into our suitcases.
At its basic level, this is a counting book. But it’s also, wondrously, a kid-friendly memoir of a family’s trip to Maine. Not everything Smith counts on the trip is related to a good experience, yet it’s all wrapped up in one big meaningful memory-making trip. If you take such family trips, you will understand. You and your young reader can write your own counting book based on your personal trip. And if your young reader has never had a beach vacation, this book might make her ask for one. Start counting your pennies. It’ll be worth it, except maybe for those 18 mosquito bites!
What is it and who is Henry? It is a word and Henry is the main character in Henry Finds His Word by Lindsay Ward (2015, Dial Books for Young Readers). Henry is a baby who tires of hearing those around him wonder about his first word, especially when he felt he was communicating just fine. So he sets off to find it.
This book is fun, silly and charming. Parents will love it and young readers will delight in Henry’s quest for a milestone they probably don’t remember having, but of which they’ve likely been told. If a reader has a sibling Henry’s age, I can imagine the layered thinking that may occur as they wonder what their sibling thinks when trying to communicate. Or maybe your young reader will ponder if words really do look like anything. Despite its simple theme, Henry Finds His Word is sure to bring up some engaging questions.
If you plan to read this book to your child, you can start with a question of your own. When you come to the page where Henry sets off to find his work, ask, “What do you predict Henry’s first word will be?” You don’t have to of course, but predicting will add a little spice to an already fun reading session.