Thursday, June 13, 2013

Books We Love: “My Dad is Big and Strong, But …,” “Inside Outside,” “Flight 1-2-3,” and “Extreme Oceans”

It’s June! School is winding down. My daughter has finished preschool for summer. It’s time for fresh air, sunshine, and our annual trip to the beach. And you can bet we’ll pack a selection of books just right for the season. For starters, while you’re helping your child pick out a father’s day gift, how about choosing a special book that would make a wonderful “backwards” gift, from dad to child?

This year, we’re giving our little girl My Dad is Big and Strong, But … A Bedtime Story by Coralie Saudo, illustrated by Kris DiGiacomo. In Saudo’s story, it’s dad who doesn’t want to go to bed and the son must convince dad to call it a night. The writing is clever. Every child (especially mine) will be able to recognize themselves in dad’s antics. And the illustrations are wonderfully child-centric, with collaged elements and hand-lettered type that make this book look like a clever kid’s art project. It’s definitely a “read to me” book, as some of the words are sophisticated, but rightly so. This is a book to be shared, parent to child, a real and heart-felt story and every family’s inside joke. It’s by Enchanted Lion Books, a very special press.

It’s time to take the party outdoors, and a great choice to bring along on a trip to the park is Inside Outside, conceived and illustrated by Lizi Boyd. Inside Outside is a wordless picture book, beautifully illustrated with clever cut-outs and flaps that show the interior and exterior view of different rooms in a house, all through the seasons. The story begins and ends in winter and makes its way through all the seasons, with clever overlaps from one environment to the next. It’s a perfect opportunity for your child to “read” to you, explaining the clever connections between the inside and outside scenes, as well as identifying the clues to seasons and different seasonal activities. It’s by Chronicle Books, another of my favorite children’s presses.

Will air travel figure into your summer plans? If so, another adorable Chronicle title, Flight 1-2-3 will make the special event that is a trip to the airport even more special for your child. It’s written and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout in the style of iconic airport graphics. As van Lieshout acknowledges, without modern airport graphics “mostly designed by AIGA artists Seyour Chwast, Roger Cook, and Don Shanosky, we wouldn’t arrive on time or at the right destination.” This book invites young readers to identify all the essential elements of an airport like luggage carts, check-in desks, and gates. Air travel, especially that first trip to an airport, is momentous to say the least. Flight 1-2-3 captures the excitement of the airport while making the entire event a teachable and knowable one.

Going to the beach this summer? Take along another great Chronicle book, Seymour Simon’s Extreme Oceans. This is part of Simon’s terrific Extreme Earth series. Extreme Oceans makes a good “read to me” choice but an even better young reader selection. It’s filled with fascinating and intriguing facts about the oceans, their eco-systems, and life on land near the sea. And this book has a conscience: it explains in accessible terms man’s positive and negative impact on the environment, raising the next generation of ecologically aware citizens. Extreme Oceans is illustrated with spectacular color photographs of jaw-dropping beauty and drama.

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