New books that will press your kids' buttons — or vice versa
Kids' Books: New titles include "Spin," "Press Here," "The Game of Light," "Fortune Cookies" and "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe."
Scripps Howard News Service
You don't need a computer to have interactive fun with these innovative books for young readers:
• French author/illustrator Herve Tullet displays sheer genius in his new book, "Press Here" (Chronicle Books, $14.99, ages 2 up). Although the book is exceedingly simple, there's no doubt that older children and even teens and adults will find "Press Here" both entertaining and intriguing.
Tullet's brief text is paired with a series of yellow, red and blue dots highlighted on white or black pages. Building his text around the notion that young children love to push buttons, Tullet opens the book by urging readers to first "press"the single yellow dot displayed in the center of an otherwise white page and then turn the page.
On the following page, readers discover that, by "pressing" the first dot, they now have created two yellow dots. As the book goes on, further finger-pressing calls forth red dots and blue dots, first a few, then a whole page. At one point, Tullet urges readers to tilt the book to the left; turning the page, readers find that the tilt has caused the dots to "move"from the center of the page to the left-hand side. And so it goes, as Tullet urges readers to "shake"the book, blow on the dots and clap at the dots (which "makes"them huge).
The bottom line: "Press Here" is a tour de force of imagination and playfulness that belongs on every family bookshelf.
• Tullet offers readers more opportunities to have creative fun in a series of six new books published by Phaidon Press. The books, which cost $8.95 each, are published as board books, but they aren't really for babies and toddlers. Instead, they are aimed at children ages 3-6, as well as playful adults.
Each of the six books requires readers to do something different. In "The Game of Finger Worms," for example, Tullet suggests that readers first use a pen to draw two eyes and a mouth on the tip of their pointer finger, then stick their finger through the pages of the book, thus giving "faces"to the creatures he has illustrated.
In "The Game of Patterns," readers are invited to look for differences between the seemingly similar patterns on each left page and each right page. And, with "The Game of Light," readers can shine a flashlight through the patterns of stars, moons and other things that Tullet has provided through die-cuts on each page.
Readers also will enjoy the whimsy of the other three books in the series: "The Game of Mix and Match"; "The Game of Let's Go!"; and "The Game of Mix-Up Art." And check out Tullet's marvelous website (in French and English) at http://tullet.free.fr/.
• Is that a fish or a bird on the cover of "Spin" (Price Stern Sloan/Penguin, $12.99, ages 3-5)? Turn the image (which is a movable piece set into the cover) and readers will see that it's both a fish and a bird — it just depends on which way you spin it.
Author/illustrator Ido Vaginsky plays with readers' perceptions in this diverting book. Each two-page spread features a simple verse and a way for readers to move around a movable image. So, for example, readers turn a paper wheel on the side of one page and a cow morphs into an owl. On another page, readers pull down a tab and watch a frog become a moose. Young readers will love participating in the game, which ends with an eye-catching pop-up duck.
• Illustrator Salina Yoon presents a sprightly new version of a traditional rhyme in "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" (Robin Corey Books/Random House, $6.99, ages 1-3). Every other page in this brilliantly colored board book has a square hole cut in the middle that Yoon uses to showcase various elements of the rhyme. On one two-page spread, for example, she shows a purple box on the left-hand page to illustrate the number one; on the facing page, there are two yellow dots for the number two. Readers turn the page and see the box and the dots incorporated into a larger picture of a clown's shoe for "Buckle my shoe."It's a fun concept that will have the youngest readers turning the pages to see what's next.
• Young readers will relish their role as fortune tellers in "Fortune Cookies" (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, $14.99, age 2-5), written by Albert Bitterman and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka (he won the top children's-book-illustration award in 2006 for "The Hello, Goodbye Window"). The simple but satisfying story of how a young girl finds a cat, loses it and then is reunited with it is told through a series of seven fortunes, which readers open by pulling tabs. Raschka's loose, colorful illustrations add further panache.
Karen MacPherson, the children's/teen librarian at the Takoma Park, Md., Library, can be reached at Kam.Macpherson@gmail.com.